In our first article, we have reported about the representation of the subject of violence among same-sex partners identified as women in research studies. As we have learned, there were no studies specifically about our subject of interest. However, domestic violence was only touched upon in studies about violence against LGBTIQ persons in general. When we attempted to find non-scientific content that has the aim of raising awareness about this subject, we found only several articles that relate to this topic.
Following is a short review of four articles that have been published and posted in the past ten years. As you will see, not all of them have the intention of raising awareness about the domestic or dating violence in order to help the victims. Some even use arguments that are not at all concerned with improving the rights of LGBTIQ persons.
For example, we have come across media content that speaks about this subject, but with the intention to denigrate the LGBTIQ community and families. One such example is the article “The Truths and the Lies About Homosexual Relationships: An Analysis“ [“Istine i laži o homoseksualnim vezama: analiza”] published on the anti- gender/anti-LGBT and propagandist zdravstveniodgoj.com dedicated to the opposition to the introduction of the Sexual/Health Education program that was to be included in the curriculum of the new Health Education plan from academic year 2012/2013. The anti-gender and anti-LGBT movement in Croatia, is a part of the broader phenomenon of re-traditionalisation and clericalisation of the Croatian society in recent years. In the chapter dedicated to the violence among female same-sex partners, a few foreign research studies are listed, and all show high percentages of violence. This would not be a problem per se, but given the context of the article whose aim is to depict same-sex couples as unfit for marriage and family life, it becomes easy to assume how these studies were selected.
Before this article that was posted in 2014, only a couple of articles that touch upon this problem were published or posted. One is the Croatian translation of the article “The Whole Truth about Domestic Violence“ [translated as „Žene su nasilne kao i muškarci“ – Women are as Violent as Men] by Philip W. Cook in Zarez – a biweekly for cultural and social affairs (no. 175, March 2006). The article is primarily dedicated to violence against men and consequently the aim of the chapter “Lesbian violence“ is to discredit the Marxist feminist concept of patriarchy and the idea that only men can be the perpetrators of violence. The main argument is that violent behavior is not inherently male, and that this idea prevents the recognition of male victims, as well as victims in female same-sex couples.
In May 2007, national LGBT news portal CroL posted the article “Unspeakable – When a Woman rapes another Woman“ [“Neizrecivo – kad žena siluje ženu”]. After referring to research studies about same-sex rape, the article presents a whole list of misconceptions about this problem. One of the major ones is that rape between female same-sex partners is impossible or that the forceful penetration with fingers, sex toys or other objects is not rape. It is also said that there is the stereotype that all lesbians like BDSM sex toys and therefore rape is just part of the role playing. Besides, all lesbians are feminists which makes their relationship harmonious and the violence against partners practically impossible. Finally, butch or dominant women cannot be the victims of rape, especially not from a feminine woman. These and other ideas prevent the problem from being recognized, since it is difficult to talk about a problem if it is believed that it actually does not exist. Especially if the victims are often willing to keep silent in order not to bring further harm to their already stigmatized community.
More about the ways that stigmatization of LGBTIQ community in Croatia affects the dealing with this issue, is elaborated in the chapter about sexual violence in the handbook “Mosaics of Sexuality – for Sexual and Gender Minorities” [“Mozaik seksualnosti za pripadnice seksualnih i rodnih manjina“]. The handbook is aimed at lesbian-, bisexual- and transwomen, and in an advisory manner addresses topics like romantic relationships, sexual pleasure, sexual health and so on. With regards to not reporting violence, not only many of the victims are not willing to talk about violence because of the fear of reinforcing the prejudice that the public has against them, but many of them are not even out. Namely, in a society like Croatian where homo/lesbo-phobia, biphobia and transphobia are rampant, and reporting the violence implies coming out of both the victim and the abuser – this action can become very unpleasant and possibly even dangerous.
Furthermore, there are also specific problems that transwomen face. Firstly, social services and shelters for women victims of violence are often not willing to aid transwomen. Secondly, transwomen are reluctant to report the violence because of the fear of being ridiculed for being molested or victimized in an all-male prison. Finally, it is pointed out that the professionals in services dealing with victims of violence in Croatia are still not competent in dealing with the specific problems of LGBTIQ victims, especially in providing anonymity.
We have seen how the subject of our research has been used for making argument against the LGBTIQ community and thus the victims’ reluctance to participate in our research will be understandable. Furthermore, if this sensitive issue is addressed without the intention to support the victims, it can also be highly problematic. Finally, special issues regarding transwomen are only addressed in the special publication targeting them, whereas in other media content trans persons are almost completely invisible.