SAN ANTONIO – Domestic violence survivors face a major stigma when they try to get out of a dangerous relationship.
Survivors from the LGBTQ community face two stigmas.
Studies show intimate partner violence is even more common in that community, yet far fewer victims reach out for help.
During Domestic Violence Awareness month, a brave survivor shared her story to show others, like her, that help and hope are a reality.
"It started off verbal, and then she got abusive to the point where she tried to break my windshield when I was trying to leave her," Stacey Tumlinson said. "She started grabbing me by the neck, then she started pushing me around. I ended up having to call police. She took a knife to my suitcase."
The stigmas and obstacles piled up and it took Tumlinson a year to get out of that abusive relationship with her ex-girlfriend.
She feared not only of victimization, but also hate from society she's experienced before, even in San Antonio.
"People saying, 'Hey, y'all don't belong here. We don't want your kind here.' People that are very judgmental and that's verbally abusive to us," she said. "There's a lot of gay bashing and people are scared of what will happen to them."
Tumlinson said those experiences can sometimes make LGBTQ community members feel accustomed to abuse, even in relationships.
Research is finally being done on the subject.
- In 2012, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found 44% of lesbian women and 61% of bisexual women experienced physical violence, stalking or rape by intimate partners.
- The same study showed 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men reported the same violent experiences.
- In addition, a 2012 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that fewer than 5% of LGBTQ survivors sought protective orders from the courts.
That being said, Tumlinson said San Antonio is very inclusive in comparison to other places she's lived, and she's proud of the City Council that approved extra funding for domestic violence and LGBTQ victims in the 2019 city budget.
The 2019 budget passed with an entire section dedicated to domestic violence, which includes $170,000 for the Community Wide Communications Campaign, which in great part addresses the LGBTQ community's need for access to information and resources.
"I just think everybody should be equal and have the equal opportunities that everybody else does," Tumlinson said. "Because you know, God's created all of us, and that's the main thing. We all bleed the same color."
If you or a loved one is suffering in an abusive relationship there are plenty of resources.
Many resources are listed in our special section, Loving In Fear, Confronting Domestic Violence.
All women are welcome at the Battered Women and Children's Shelter, and there is a similar local shelter for men. The shelters are run by Family Violence Prevention Services. The contact number is 210-733-8810.