I didn’t know what to do af­ter he beat me up. But de­spite what he did, I felt like I had to pro­tect him


of emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

Stonewall Hous­ing’s ad­vi­sors of­fer help to those who want to es­cape an abu­sive home and for those clients who want to stay, but con­sider their op­tions.

“A lot of the con­tact we have with them comes through our ad­vice line,” adds Maria. “A quar­ter of our clients ex­pe­ri­ence do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, which is quite a high num­ber. We deal with more than 1,200 peo­ple per year. And that abuse can also come from di­rect or ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers.”

But what con­sti­tutes an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship? It’s not, as you might as­sume, just phys­i­cal vi­o­lence. It can in­clude men­tal abuse such as con­stant put-downs, threats to ‘out’ you, be­ing ex­tremely pos­ses­sive or

For Danny, it took three more months be­fore he wised up. “I was mor­ti­fied and em­bar­rassed, and I didn’t know what to do af­ter he beat me up,” he ad­mits. “I went to stay at my mum’s house and told her I’d been mugged. I couldn’t tell her the truth or she and my broth­ers would’ve killed him and – de­spite what he did – I felt like I had to pro­tect him. ‘It wasn’t his fault’, I thought, ‘I must’ve pro­voked him.’ He told me this kind of thing of­ten hap­pens in gay re­la­tion­ships be­cause some­times there’s too much testos­terone in the house. I be­lieved him, be­cause I thought it was only women who were abused, not men.

“My boyfriend was so sorry for what he did and, even­tu­ally, I agreed to move back in. I was wary and he was on his best be­hav­iour. But a month or so later at a bar, I was chat­ting to a guy I went to col­lege with and I could see my boyfriend was get­ting funny about it. I tried to calm him down and he seemed OK, but later that night he fol­lowed the guy into the toi­let and glassed him, for no rea­son other than he knew me. It was hor­rific.”

It’s an all-too-com­mon story for Bro­ken Rain­bow, Bri­tain’s only na­tional do­mes­tic vi­o­lence helpline manned by LGBT-friendly staff.

“In the het­ero­sex­ual com­mu­nity, do­mes­tic abuse is widely known about,” ex­plains Jackie Fer­nan­dez, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s CEO. “We know there’s just as many – if not more – vic­tims in same-sex re­la­tion­ships. But most peo­ple don’t recog­nise do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and abuse ex­ists be­tween gay cou­ples. The fig­ure could even be higher be­cause there are more ways to abuse a part­ner, like threat­en­ing to out them to their friends, fam­ily or even their chil­dren.

“Even those in an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship of­ten don’t re­alise that’s what they’re in. Some men will tell us, ‘My part­ner’s not re­ally abus­ing me but we some­times have rough sex and it gets out of hand, but that’s what hap­pens in gay re­la­tion­ships.’ It’s not. And a lot of peo­ple con­fuse rape with a sex­ual pat­tern. Our com­mu­nity doesn’t recog­nise do­mes­tic abuse as a se­ri­ous is­sue.”

There are more than 500 refuges for women across the coun­try but, shock­ingly, there are no im­me­di­ate ac­cess refuges for gay men.

“There are a few hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tion and hos­tel type ac­com­mo­da­tions, but there’s usu­ally a wait­ing list or in­ter­view process,” adds Jackie. “So if you need to get out be­cause your life’s in dan­ger, you’ll have to go to a friend or fam­ily mem­ber’s house, or to the po­lice.”

It was too late for John Ed­wards to get help. In May 2010, his civil part­ner Michael Ed­wards, 32, was con­victed of Bri­tain’s first-ever do­mes­tic vi­o­lence mur­der within a

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