For young gays, figuring out your sexual identity, and starting your first gay relationship is an exciting time.

For a lot of us, those early memories of experiencing love, and lust with a person of the same sex are remembered fondly. But for some of us those memories can often hold emotional scars, memories of abuse, being taken advantaged of, being controlled and being made to feel worthless.

“My first gay relationship which lasted from the time I was 18 to 22, was abusive. My boyfriend isolated me from my friends and family, ridiculed me constantly, controlled my money against my will, shouted and threw things at me, and on a couple of occasions hit me.” – James

In all the confusion of figuring out sexual identity, young gays are often unaware what is acceptable behaviour by a partner and what is not.

“When I was 16 I went to a gay dance party and that’s where I met my first girlfriend. We connected immediately and I fell madly in love. We had magic sex, but within a month I had a black eye. It became clear that my girlfriend had a drinking problem and anger issues. But I was in love with being in love and I didn’t know anything different. My girlfriend was six years older than me and she used her age and experience to take control of me”. – Ali

When first relationships are abusive, this can lead to young gays believing that those forms of abuse are accepted in gay relationships. Any form of abuse should not be accepted in any relationship.

If you feel like your relationship is abusive, help is out there.

info: For more information visit www.anothercloset.org.au or contact the Safe Relationships Project www.iclc.org.au/srp 02 9332 1966 or 1800 244 481.

Kate Duffy is the Project Officer of the Safe Relationships Project and a solicitor at the Inner City Legal Centre.

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