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Intimate Partner Violence: Power and Control in Same Sex Relationships

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Glory Johnson and Brittney Griner

Glory Johnson and Brittney Griner

Over the last few months, we have watched the soap opera called the “Brittney and Glory Show” play out in the media. Once a story about a same-sex couple openly celebrating their love for life, basketball and each other, it has quickly turned into what appears to be a turbulent relationship.

As someone who loves the sport of basketball and actually appreciates the idea of people being comfortable with their self and who they love, it honestly pains me to watch WNBA stars Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury and Glory Johnson of the Tulsa Shock fall apart before our very eyes.

The question is, what makes the “Brittney and Glory Show” so interesting to the media?  Besides the reality of how social media and sensationalized journalism become overly involved in sharing the private lives of celebrities, it’s the drama that violence brings to their otherwise normal relationship.

The truth is that until the domestic violence arrest of both Brittney and Glory, we knew nothing more than they were engaged to be married. So, let me tell you straight, I will not attempt to make assumptions about their relationships by trying to guess who did what or who is guilty of what crime, but I will take this opportunity to shed light on a real issue in intimate partner and same-sex relationships.

Brittney and Glory are not alone in same-sex partner experiencing intimate-partner violence. A study done by the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center reports that 21.5 percent of men and 35.4 percent of women living with a same-sex partner experienced physical violence throughout their lifetimes and transgendered persons had an incidence of 34.6 percent.

In fact, the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence report, from 2013, one of the first ever to on abuse by sexual orientation found that the lifetime incidence of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner was 43.8 percent for lesbians, 61.1 percent for bisexual women, and 35 percent for heterosexual women, while it was 26 percent for gay men, 37.3 percent for bisexual men, and 29 percent for heterosexual men.  These statistics are horrifying and deserve some attention.

Let’s face it, Brittney and Glory do not exist in a vacuum; this societal myth that only straight women get abused, that men are never victimized, and that women never abuse lead to a continued silence by many in abusive relationships. To put it plainly, domestic violence is not just a straight woman’s issue; the discussion must include all types of relationships, including LGBTQ.

What do you need to remember about Domestic Violence in a LGBTQ relationship? The abuse is about control not just violence; therefore, you would look for the same strategies to gain power and control, as you would in a heterosexual relationship. Remember, abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional abuse, financial control, isolation and more. For more specific examples check out the LGBT Relationship Violence Power and Control Wheel.

If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse you are not alone.

THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at 1-800-799-7233

THE NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE AT 1-800-656-4673

THE NATIONAL TEEN DATING ABUSE HOTLINE AT 1-866-331-9474

Sharea Farmer is a Licensed Social Worker and the owner of Radiant Sunshine. Sharea has translated many of her skills into developing a company with the goal of supporting, maintaining and improving individuals, couples and human service professionals. She completed her Masters in Social Work at Rutgers University; where she is currently an adjunct professor in the graduate level department of social work. She enjoys training professionals on Program Development and Strategic Planning, Clinical Practice with Adolescents/Children, and Diversity and Oppression.

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