In December of 2005, I took my last college exam and boarded a plane to Seattle. Two months earlier, I had met a woman vibrant and wild with a tender heart. She asked me to move to her home and I, with no other plans post-graduation, joined her. Our first month was idyllic. And then she hit me. The raging passion of our romance hid the rage of her fists against my skin, and I didn’t know how to escape. Even as I volunteered at a domestic violence shelter, I didn’t recognize my own relationship as abusive because my partner was a woman.
As a survivor of child sexual abuse and sex trafficking, I knew abuse. But at the hands of my female lover, everything was uncertain. I had never heard of abusive lesbian relationships. When I fled to a new state with a new name, I talked with other women who had survived abusive lesbian relationships -- but in utter secrecy. The shame they felt mirrored my own guilt for staying, and my guilt for leaving.
It’s time to write this story. Recent media coverage of domestic violence means people are talking about it, but not all aspects of it. I’m not interested in telling just my own story -- I'm interested in the ways we survive, the threads that move us from surviving to thriving to fucking-up miserably and back again. I’m interested in the things we don’t talk about. I want to talk about them.
Recently, I did a brave thing. I applied for a ten-day residency at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, sponsored by TinyLetter. I applied because it's time. It's time to tell this story, to write the truth out of a dangerous time. It's time because I'm tired of not finding the stories of women beaten by their female partners anywhere in the domestic violence narrative. It's time because I needed this book eight years ago, and I still need it now.
The excerpt above is from my residency application. I'm struggling with how much (if any) of the book I should post here, but I want to share that it isn't easy to keep it to myself. I'm working on excerpts as essays for publication, because I think it's important to not keep it quiet until it is a cohesive piece, but instead to consistently create the conversation. And so I'm telling you.
I am a survivor of same-sex domestic violence.
And I'm not afraid to tell the world it exists.