Intimate partner violence can be perpetrated by anyone regardless of gender or sexual identity.  There is often a misconception that people in Queer relationships are not perpetrators or victims  of intimate partner violence. Generally, IPV is often under reported in heterosexual relationships  due to the stigma and societal perceptions of such violence, however, the silence and  underreporting is even greater in Queer relationships because people believe that it simply does  not exist. It is with this recognition that INEND convened this Feminist Forum to have a chance  for Queer feminists to discuss the manifestations of Intimate Partner Violence in Queer relationships including its psychological, physical and financial manifestations.  

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) was said to include physical aggression, (hitting, kicking,  beating) sexual violence, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors within an intimate  relationship (manipulation, gaslighting, humiliation, threats of harm, intimidation, threats to  withdraw financial support, restricting access to financial resources) 

There was also a recognition that this violence can be perpetrated by former partners.  

The conversation then moved to the ways in which identity and labels have been used to  perpetrate IPV in Queer relationships. It was mentioned that we are all products of the patriarchy  and that how we maneuver the world is informed by patriarchal norms. It is for this reason that  lesbians for example, replicate the heteronormative ways of doing relationships; studs replicate  toxic masculinity and are almost always expected to date femmes, femmes are expected to  perform certain gender roles like cooking, studs are considered the “heads of households” and or  providers, among other things. The exercise or performance of toxic masculinity as prescribed in  a heteronormative society renders people abusers or victims. The conversation then moved to  IPV being an element of power. It was mentioned that because of unequal power in relationships,  there is a high likelihood of violence. Who has what kind of power and how do they assert that  power, and if they lose that power how do they maintain that position of power? For example, if  a person considered the sole provider (a position that gives them financial power) loses their job,  and thus their power, they will find other ways to assert their power and maintain control of it, like physical or psychological violence.  

There is a general belief that women cannot beat other women, and it was encouraged that we  disabuse ourselves from this notion. IPV is a reality in Queer relationships; and it manifests in  your partner making you feel like you owe them because they support you financially, verbal  

abuse, passive aggression because one partner is not in the mood for sex, your partner restricting  you from work, or from accessing education. Financial violence is usually overlooked because a  lot of people think that IPV has to be physical violence. It was recognized that IPV can be as  subtle as your partner giving you the silent treatment because things did not go their way. 

Additionally, it was recognized that Queer activists can be and have been perpetrators of  Intimate Partner Violence and the reason cited for this is that Queer activists do not have a solid  work-life balance; that, both these categories are intertwined leading to frustrations and  overworking that spill over into their relationships, and can also be set off by alcohol, drugs or an  unstable emotional position.  

Abusers were said to have moments of remorse, and moments when they beg for forgiveness,  manipulate the situation to maintain control of the victim, buy gifts for the victim to get them to  stay with them or keep them silent, shift the blame from themselves to the victims and moments  when they vow to never repeat the abuse only to be abusive again.  

Because of conditions of criminalization of homosexual unions, Sexual and Gender Minorities  can hardly ever report instances of abuse to the police. It was recommended that it was important  to normalize having conversations about IPV in Queer relationships to break the silence around  it, cultivate healthy communication styles in relationships, practice active listening, divest from  the heteronormative ways of doing relationships, have support systems, invest in therapists if  possible, and develop sustainable reporting channels.

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