For some trans people, experiencing physical violence in a relationship may not register as being abuse. This is because some trans people may experience violence on a daily basis.

Some experience violence from family when they come out acknowledging their affirmed gender. Other trans people may experience transphobic violence on the street or when going to bars and pubs.

This does not make violence in the lives of trans people as ‘normal’. However it may affect those people who are in domestic violence relationships, and make them feel they have less options or places to turn to for help.

“My boyfriend told me no one else would love me because I was a freak. He made me feel like I should be grateful that someone – anyone loved me. I didn’t think much of it when he got wasted and hit me. It wasn’t until I was at the hospital with a broken arm did I stop to think about it all.” – Cherie

Because of societal transphobia and discrimination, trans people may feel safer in an abusive relationship than alone. This isolation reinforces to trans people the need to remain in whatever relationship they establish, abusive or otherwise.

“I had been with my girlfriend for 2 years when I told her I wanted to transition. That’s when the fights started and she said I had been lying to her. I didn’t want to lose her, so I ignored it when she slapped me and pushed me around. Once I started transitioning she made me feel like I was indebted to her for staying with me, so I let her control my social life and my money. In the end I felt like I had lost everything.” – Kai

Any form of abuse should not be accepted in any relationship. If you feel like your relationship is abusive, help is out there.

By KATE DUFFY

info: Kate Duffy is the Project Officer of the Safe Relationships Project and a solicitor at the Inner City Legal Centre. For more information contact the Safe Relationships Project www.iclc.org.au/srp 02 9332 1966 or 1800 244 481.

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