When Beverly White was first struck by her ex-partner, she went to D.C. Superior Court the very next day. There, in the domestic violence section, she saw a number of women in various stages of physical abuse.
But perhaps most shocking, and most haunting, was a small play area in the corner for the children of the victims. “To this day, I tear up just thinking about that play area,” she says.
What remains disconcerting to White, as a survivor of intimate partner violence, is the hopelessness that victims may feel, particularly if they have no way to escape their situation.
She says it’s common for survivors to not be believed when they come forward, and some, including family members and spiritual advisors, even attempt to justify an abuser’s actions.
“It doesn’t matter the reason,” she says. “As a child, I saw my mother get beaten because she put too much salt in the soup. I got beaten because the young woman I was involved with told me I betrayed her by telling someone she had gotten a DUI the night before.”
White says LGBTQ people exeperience domestic violence at the same rates as their heterosexual peers, but those incidents often go unreported.
“After I told my story, I kept on hearing all of these stories about how this type of violence was going on, and yet no one was telling anybody,” she says. “It’s important to break the silence. If we all know, we should say something.”
To increase awareness, White’s organization, One Woman, Many Voices, is partnering with the DC Anti-Violence Project, Community Action for Safe Spaces, and Team Rayceen for a special town hall focusing on domestic violence within the LGBTQ community on Thursday, Oct. 11.
Many organizers say that such a discussion is long overdue.
“I was hosting a dating event, and someone brought up domestic violence, and everyone in the room had something to say about being a victim but never really having talked about it,” says Rayceen Pendarvis, who will moderate a panel discussion and field questions from the audience. “There’s a stigma attached to this idea of being a survivor of domestic violence. But people need to know they’re not alone, and to realize there’s strength in numbers, and talking about it helps you to heal.”
The LGBTQ Domestic Violence Town Hall is Thursday, Oct. 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in the upstairs community room of the Reeves Municipal Center, 2000 14th St. NW. Admission is free. Doors open at 6 p.m. Visit teamrayceen.eventbrite.com for more information.
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