I am committed to raising awareness of domestic abuse in lesbian relationships. I want all gay women to be aware that this happens in our community and not to judge survivors. I want more (ie any) specialist services for lesbian survivors. I want hospitals, the police, refuges, rape crisis centres and anyone who works with survivors to be aware of and know how to support lesbian domestic violence survivors.

But I also feel a real sense of solidarity with ALL survivors: gay or straight, female or male, black or white, disabled or able-bodied. I also feel solidarity with survivors of all kinds of abuse: domestic violence, sexual violence, prostitution, and female genital mutilation. We share so many of the same experiences – shame, guilt, self-blame, silencing. I have learnt so much and been supported so much by reading about survivors of all these types or abuse, from all these different backgrounds.

When we reach out for help and find out how little there is for us, it’s really tempting to get angry with other survivors for getting more support/attention/money than us. To feel that it’s unfair that straight women get more support than gay women, or that domestic violence services seem to be bigger and better funded than sexual violence services. It’s essential that we focus on the bigger picture and remember who our real enemies are:

1) Abusers

2)  Society, for condoning their behaviour and failing to support to survivors.

Straight women survivors and those who support them are not our enemies, they are our sisters. We are ALL important. We ALL deserve support. There needs to be far more support for ALL survivors. Abuse needs to be recognised for the epidemic that it is and as a society we should be taking responsibility and ensuring that no expense is spared in supporting some of the most vulnerable women, men and children in our society. Services should not have to compete against each other for funding, all should be funded.

We must never let politicians, the media or anyone else divide survivors and encourage us to argue among ourselves. This helps no-one except abusers. I believe very strongly in the importance of specialist services who can serve a specific group and the specific issues that group faces: women-only services, men-only services, lesbian-only services, black women-only services… but all these groups need to work together. Our voices will be so much louder if we come together and demand adequate support for us all, rather than trying to shout each other down. Our voices will be so much louder if we say “there is no either/or – the government and society needs to recognise all forms of abuse against all categories of people and we will accept nothing less.”

There are so many threats to support services for survivors at the moment – we need more, bigger, specialist services and instead the government has the audacity to threaten us with cuts. They want to divide and rule – and that means we need to unite and resist.

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