Many years ago I fell in love with a handsome man and we started living together. Everything was fine to begin with but gradually and almost imperceptibly things began to change. Only occasionally would something happen that made me think things were not quite right. The first occasion was when he tore-up a birthday card from a friend because he suspected it was from a secret lover. He would often get angry if I got held-up at work. He would not believe that there was an innocent explanation. He would say that unless I was home within half an hour he would not be home when I got there. I would get stressed rushing home to beat his deadline.
He used to check my mobile phone. He found an entry he did not recognise and assumed that "Bruno" was someone I was having an affair with. He refused to believe my denials and was angry for days. Out of desperation, I brought home the phone book belonging to my boss' secretary to prove that Bruno was actually my boss' driver. Only then would he believe me although it would not be long before he found some other excuse to have a go at me. It was a combination of excessive jealousy and an excuse to shout at me. He would get angry with me for the slightest reason and twice the emotional abuse became physical.
His control was so effective, at the time I did not realise that it was possible to have a loving relationship without the abuse. He told me no one else would be interested in me and I believed him. He would stop me going to the gym and instead we sat at home, drank gin and tonic and ate snacks and large meals. I ballooned so much, I was unrecognisable in some of the photographs taken of me during that time.
At the time, homosexuality was not as accepted in the police as it is now. I was a police officer but as he kicked and punched me as I was curled-up in the gutter, all I could think about was how embarrassing it would be if someone actually did call the police. At the time, the Domestic Violence Act did not cover same-sex couples but that's changed. At the time there was no support group for those like me who were suffering from LGBT domestic abuse and thankfully that's changed too.
When he beat me up, I talked to a mutual friend who told me that I must tell him to stop. I was petrified he would find out I had told someone, let alone confront him. Eventually I went away on a residential course and confided in a colleague. She made me realise that I had to do something and living away from home, away from his power to control me, gave me the strength to end it. He threatened to kill me but eventually he left.
Thankfully attitudes in the police and in society generally have changed but there are still some who just don't get it or don't want to understand. Although there is a good chance that the officers who respond to your call for help will do the right thing, we need to do more.
Broken Rainbow, the LGBT domestic violence charity is raising awareness about same sex domestic violence. Violence against women and children by men is important but it is not the whole story. It is important for victims or survivors of LGBT domestic abuse to know that they are not alone, that help and advice is available and that they do not need to put up with an abusive relationship.
Many people think support for victims of domestic violence is only available to women who suffer at the hands of an abusive male partner but that is not the case. Many people are unaware that they can be safe, they can be supported and that there is a route out of an abusive same-sex relationship.
As society becomes more accepting of LGBT people, many more are living openly in relationships. Whilst the advent of civil partnerships and equal marriage have formalised these relationships, some will not have a happy ending. Most are loving, caring partnerships but as the number of partnerships increases, inevitably a small but increasing number will be unhealthy and abusive.
In 2005, despite what I had been through and what my abusive ex had told me, I fell in love with a handsome Norwegian man and he fell in love with me. We were married in Oslo in 2009 and in March this year our same-sex marriage was recognised in the UK, when equal marriage became legal here as well. We are living proof that you can have a loving, caring relationship without any abuse.
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