Imprisoned by Violence: Domestic Violence in the (Black) LGBT Community

Tariq and Kaldrick

The L.A. Complex- It has become one of the most dramatic, provocative, and suspenseful shows of this year’s television dramas, but more notably within the show, and among the LGBTQ community was the relationship between Kaldrick King- a ‘hardcore’ dl rapper and Tariq- a baby faced novice music producer. If you have been following the show- or even if you have not– you may be familiar with the dramatic, yet violent, ending during the season one finale. After being caught kissing Tariq by his studio executive, Kaldrick expectedly lashed out at Tariq by repeatedly punching him in the face and sending him to the hospital. For any television or media executive the season one ending of The L.A. Complex did exactly what it was expected to do-bring in ratings, but for anyone examining this from a socially violent standpoint, Kaldricks reaction to being caught kissing Tariq stimulated a larger discussion; the prevalence of domestic violence within the LGBTQ community. Although The L.A. Complex is a fictional drama, the over-bearing presence of domestic violence within the LGBTQ community is a growing reality.

According to the 2011 Inter-Personal Violence study conducted by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), nineteen homicides–the highest number of LGBTQ(H) IPV homicides ever was recorded; gay men, LGBTQ(H) communities of color, LGBTQ(H) youth and young adults, and transgender communities experienced the most severe forms of IPV. What does it say about our community, a community who is consistently fighting for equality and acceptance, if we continue to adopt the egregious practices of the very community from which we experience our discrimination?

As a secondary victim of domestic violence it was extremely difficult to emotionally rationalize and verbally speak-out about that which I had experienced as an adolescent; and now as a twenty-four year-old gay identified domestic violence prevention advocate, I find it even more disturbing that I not only fight the prevention battle externally, but internally as well. The mere fact that I continue to come across my LGBTQ identified brothers and sisters who have been victims of domestic violence sends the signal that we are more interested in adopting the patriarchal principles of hetero-normative society, as opposed to interacting with our partners and those within our community in a healthy and peaceful manner. The anger and violence within us which we feel we must impose on another human being is not the result of socially learned behavior, but an internal conflict which we refuse to acknowledge due to many poisonous messages which are disseminated within our culture. People of color are expected to stay silent in the face of violence and as part of the LGBTQ community the silence becomes louder when law-enforcement, judicial and political figures ignore our calls for help. Not having power over our own behaviors and emotions causes us to exert dominating and violent attitudes within our community and toward our partners.

The NCAVP study also discovered that, 35% of survivors indicated they experienced IPV with a lover or partner, while 33.6% of survivors experienced IPV with ex-lovers and partners; not only in my professional opinion, but in my humane opinion- that is 35 and 33.6% which very well could have been prevented. As an LGBTQ identified prevention advocate, I am consistently asked what can be done to diminish and eradicate domestic violence within the LGBTQ community, and I simply answer by saying it is not a question that can be answered by just me, but that it is a response which must be given by the very community in which the violence is present.

As an unjustly socially marginalized and targeted group, I if no one else understand that the LGBTQ community is both angry and isolated from the larger discussion of how domestic violence affects us, but perpetuating the very behaviors which we should be transcending is not the way to encourage or produce a healthy community or an inclusive society. Domestic violence in every aspect of its existence is about control, whether economic, emotional, physical, or verbal; it is truly a weapon of mass destruction which continues to claim the independence and lives of those within our community. Until we individually cease to accept partners who emotionally degrade us for not living up to hetero-normative ideals of masculinity, until we disconnect the line of communication from those who berate us for being emotionally expressive, until we collectively forge a bond and identities which promote relationships free from violence, and until we as individuals reject the notion that what goes on in this house stay’s in this house; then we as a community and a people will continue to be the producers of our own social demise.

If you or anyone you know is or has been the victim of domestic violence, please contact your local domestic violence shelter or myself at to obtain counseling and support services or information on resources available to you. Never be afraid to allow your voice to be heard. Never question your right to a relationship that is free from any form of violence. I encourage you to Speak-up, Speak-out, and Save-A-Life!

Sean Smith, Assoc VP of Programming Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Association
Higgins Academic Center Mentor and Speaking Consultan



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