Friday, March 1, 1996

Leather and Domestic Violence (cont’d)

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #20, March 1, 1996)

Continuing our discussion from the last column: So who exactly are these perpetrators of domestic violence? Who are their victims? You can’t tell by looking at them. All abusers are not overbearing ogres; all victims are not spineless wimps. Abusers often are able to function normally in social situations, and can even be quite charming. They manage to hide their abusive tendencies from the rest of the world, reserving them exclusively for their victim(s). Because abuse victims fear embarassment (and retaliation from their abuser) if anyone else discovers they are being abused, they may present a calm, confident face to the rest of the world that belies the hell in which they’re living.

Beneath the labels and the stereotypes, both abusers and victims are still people—people with a problem that needs to be dealt with. People who never thought they would resort to hitting someone they love, or who never thought they would stand for such treatment. People who may have thought they were immune to such things, and one day realize they’re in the middle of an out-of-control situation.

The Gay and Lesbian Community Action Council (GLCAC) provides direct services to both abusers and victims, such as legal advocacy and crisis intervention (including child protection and safe housing). They’re also a treasure trove of counseling referrals. There is a 24-hour domestic violence hotline (or call the GLCAC Helpline, noon to midnight). Susan Gibel is the domestic violence program coordinator.

GLCAC worked extensively with the National Leather Association to put together a pamphlet called “Domestic Violence in the S/M Community.” If you are a member of the leather-S/M community and think you may be involved in an abusive situation, this pamphlet is required reading. Call GLCAC and ask for a copy now.

Lesbian victims of domestic abuse can find counseling resources at Casa de Esperanza or Chrysalis. Counseling for lesbian batterers is available through the Domestic Abuse Project.

A group for gay male victims and survivors of domestic abuse meets every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at Community University Health Center (intersection of Franklin and Bloomington Avenues in Minneapolis). Chuck Loban (627-6885) is the group facilitator. This group is for gay men who are currently being abused and are wondering what to do about it. It’s also for gay men who are still haunted by the “ghosts” of a past abusive relationship; this group may be able to help lay those ghosts to rest.

Counseling options for gay male abusers include Affirmation Place (only if domestic abuse is accompanied by chemical abuse) and the Domestic Abuse Project. Individual therapy is also an option.

One kind of counseling that is definitely not a good idea is couples counseling; in situations where abuse is present it is almost always counterproductive. Counseling only helps when counselor and clients deal with the truth. When their abuser is sitting right there in the counseling session the victim can’t be truthful about the abuse they are enduring, for fear of retaliation from their abuser after the session is over.

I’m going to recommend two books for further reading on this subject, in addition to the pamphlet mentioned above. “Men Who Beat The Men Who Love Them,” by Patrick Letellier and David Island, was the book that finally broke down my denial and my defenses and convinced me I had to get away from my abuser. I can’t recommend it highly enough. For women, Susan Gibel recommends “Naming the Violence—Speaking Out About Lesbian Battering,” edited by Kerry Lobel.

Upcoming Leather Events

Ms. Minnesota Leather and Leatherman of Minnesota invite you to a
Spring Sleaze Beer Bust
Sunday, March 3, 5-9 p.m., Gay 90’s Men’s Room Bar
Everyone is welcome. Featuring “Trash & Thrash, Let It All Flash” Sleazewear Contest (wear your trashiest jeans—the ones with rips in all the right places!) Door prizes, live entertainment, a surprise special guest, food and beer. $5.00 at the door. “Break the winter freeze with a Hot Spring Sleaze” 1996.

Atons Casino Run (Grand Casino, Hinckley)
Saturday, March 16, 1:00 p.m. (register by Monday, March 11)
If you’ve always wanted to wear leather/levi/uniform attire to a casino, now’s your chance. If you’re a gambler, you could WIN BIG! Or you could just hang out in the Atons’ hospitality suite (and maybe WIN BIG in a different way). $10 prepaid, $15 bus-side. For complete details and a registration form call or e-mail

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