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Nearly a third of them said they experienced misarrest; when they reported their abuse, police arrested them instead of their alleged abusers.
The situation is most dangerous for queer people of color, especially trans women, who may ultimately choose to not seek help from an institution that many in the community believe to be systemically racist and transphobic. This year, at least 28 transgender people have been murdered, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The NCAVP study found 44 percent of queer survivors trying to get emergency access to shelters were denied.
While researching for her book, Vasquez scoured libraries and online archives for books and essays about abusive lesbian relationships. “I do know of historical lesbian figures but can’t find any documentation of abuse.
I’m having to read between the lines.”Abuse can take many forms that don’t always leave marks and can be difficult to explain, such as controlling how a person spends money or stopping a trans person from taking hormones.
Even physical abuse can be subtle, including shoving, pinching, twisting an arm, and nonconsensual biting or slapping during sex.
Vasquez recalls a daydream where she imagines the physical abuse is more apparent, making it easier to get help.
“Sure, we need more studies so we can understand more, but there’s already so much evidence about the scale of the problem.”Abusers might out their partner or threaten to out him or her.
A person sexually assaulting a trans man might say it’s not really sexual assault because,“real men can’t get raped,” or “all men want sex all of the time,” says Messinger.
A woman in a lesbian relationship might deny the fact that she is being abused because of the lesbian utopia stereotype, this idea that lesbian relationships are safe, nurturing spaces and that women are peaceful and incapable of harming anyone—particularly another woman.
“I’m wishing that she knocked the shit out of me and gave me a black eye and I go to the police and they take a photo.”When Vasquez sought help from university staff, she says she found them to be well-meaning but ineffective.
“Relationships can be challenging,” they told her.“But this wasn’t challenging.
For those who do seek protection, going to the police can be terrifying.