Lesbian Battering: The Sisterhood Turns on
A series of high-profile cases of
lesbian-perpetrated domestic violence has sent
shock-waves through Massachusetts communities in
1. On February 16, a Suffolk Superior Court jury
convicted Nicole Chuminski on two counts of
second-degree murder, following a fire that killed
the two daughters of her lover Anna Reisopoulos.
During a heated argument between the two, Chuminski
reportedly fell into a fit of rage. A few hours
later Chuminski returned to her partners
apartment and hurled an acetone-laden firebomb into
the front door.
Sophia and Acia, ages 2 and 14, were burned
beyond recognition, so dental records were needed
for positive identification.
2. On March 29 Annamarie Rintala of Granby,
Mass. was found dead by strangulation in the
basement of the house she shared with her domestic
partner Cara. Cara had been previously charged with
domestic violence after she struck Annamarie in the
back of the head with a closed fist.
3. Eunice Field of Brockton, Mass. found herself
on the losing end of a bitter ménage
à trois. So on August 9 she marched to the
apartment of Lorraine Wachsman. There she grabbed a
serrated knife and stabbed Wachsman in the back and
neck. Dispelling any doubt about her intentions,
she then penned a note admitting she had killed
Waschsman for taking away the love of my
Ms. Field is now being held without bail pending
a September 3 court appearance.
Experts on lesbian domestic violence were
shocked, but honestly not surprised by these
incidents. Last November a report by the National
Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported a 125%
increase in domestic violence fatalities in lesbian
and gay couples around the country during the prior
year. According to Beth Leventhal of The Network/La
Red of Boston, partner abuse in LGBT
communities can be just as lethal as that in
Ms. Leventhals commentary actually
understates the extent of the problem. Earlier this
year the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
published the results of a survey of over 51,000
California adults: www.healthpolicy.ucla.edu/pubs/files/IPV_PB_031810.pdf
. The UCLA study found 28% of persons in
lesbian/gay relationships had experienced intimate
partner violence, compared to 17% of persons in
Its also believed that lesbians are more
likely to engage in partner violence than gay men.
According to the Boston Gay Mens Domestic
Violence Project, one in three homosexual women
experience partner aggression, compared to only one
in four homosexual men. Kaitlin Nichols of The
Network/La Red notes, The myth of
womens communities as safe communities has
prevented many women from reaching out for support.
If they have shared what is happening, they are met
with disbelief from their community.
And why are lesbians more likely to abuse?
According to Nomi Porat, an abuse-prevention
expert, the reason is poor limit-setting: An
issue common to women, particularly battered women,
is the fear of demanding physical and emotional
boundaries. In part, battered lesbians are afraid
their lovers will leave or become more violent if
any limitations are set in the
A nearly impenetrable double wall serves to keep
lesbian battering tucked away in the proverbial
closet. The first wall is the stigmatization
invoked by lesbians themselves who believe in a
sort of same-sex utopia, the feminist belief that
maintains female-female relationships are
inherently more peaceful, gentle, and
pure, compared to male-female
In Naming the Violence: Speaking out About
Lesbian Battering, Barbara Hart maintains that
female batterers should be subjected to a form of
shunning by the lesbian community: one of the
consequences of [female batterers]
violence is that they may have to limit any contact
with the person they assaulted/abused. This may
mean that the batterer cannot attend public
gatherings or movement meetings.
The second wall is the broader domestic violence
industry that maintains a cult-like belief in the
notion of patriarchal sexism, the theory that men
abuse their wives due to an innate and
irrepressible urge to oppress women. So every time
a woman pummels, rapes, or otherwise abuses her
female partner, the patriarchal dominance theory
takes a body-blow.
These ideological blinders serve to justify
shelters policies that turn away of needy women.
According to the National Coalition of
Anti-Violence Programs, the problem of abuse
shelters that discriminate on the basis of gender
identity is widespread.
Intimate partner aggression is not a problem
limited to any particular sex, or gender identity,
or economic group. Indeed, research shows women are
at least as likely as men to engage in partner
When the Sisterhood gets over its denial of the
obvious truth, well stop seeing so many women
and men victimized by domestic violence.
* * *
Roberts probes and lampoons political correctness.
His work has been published frequently in the
Washington Times, Townhall.com, LewRockwell.com,
ifeminists.net, Intellectual Conservative, and
elsewhere. He is a staff reporter for the New Media
Network. You can contact him at E-Mail
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