J Michael Cruz. Journal of Men’s Studies. Volume 11, Issue 3. Spring 2003.
While the popular literature is replete with stories related to gay male domestic violence, there continues to be a dearth in the academic literature related to domestic violence in gay romantic relationships (see Bartolomeo, 1990; Giampetruzzi, 2002; Island & Letellier, 1991; Kirby, 1994; McCoy, 1995; Tuller, 1994; Symanski, 1991). The little empirical evidence that does exist, however, indicates that the etiology of family violence in gay relationships is similar to that of heterosexual relationships (Cruz, 2000; Cruz & Firestone, 1998; Merrill, 1998). Like previous work on gay domestic violence, the theoretical foundation of this article is based on the literature of violence within heterosexual relationships, in general, and specifically literature related to why women stay in abusive relationships with their male partners who batter them. Thus, reasons why battered gay men stay with their same-sex partners will be compared to the mainstream heterosexual literature documenting why women stay with abusive heterosexual partners.
Island and Letellier (1991) estimate that one in five gay men will experience violence or abuse within a romantic relationship. However, the actual prevalence of gay male domestic violence is unknown for various reasons. For example, not everyone describes the same behavior as “violent” behavior. Further, because a man may be gay and/or battered, he may not have the support needed to disclose his situation, and thus may not report experiences with domestic violence. Additionally, since we continue to exist within a heterosexist and homophobic society, it is frequently unsafe for a gay man to divulge his relationship situation to authorities who might be able to document the experience as gay battering. Last, gay men involved in a violent romantic relationship may be unable to view it in these terms, when we remember that males are typically socialized to express anger and aggression via physical means; some gay men might view domestic violence as proscribed and gender-typical behaviors (see Cruz, 2000).
Recently, Merrill and Wolfe (2000) in their study of gay men in abusive relationships have reported that of 52 respondents, most had experienced pushing, shoving, or grabbing (79%); restraining or the blocking of an exit (77%); punching, hitting, or striking with hands or fists (64%); and slapping (54%). They also indicate that persons stayed in violent relationships for the following reasons: hope for change, love, fear, lack of assistance, loneliness, loyalty, and lack of knowledge regarding domestic violence. In another study, Merrill (1998) found that the majority of gay men (N = 52) had been threatened or assaulted with a weapon (62%) and had suffered significant property or financial loss (85%). Additionally, a number of respondents had been forced to have sex against their will (39%). In 1983, Moore and Bundy found that 86% of gay men surveyed (N = 156) had experienced same-sex battery where perpetrators and victims were friends, partners, or roommates. These persons reported behaviors like being punched, kicked, shocked, and bitten.
Cruz and Firestone (1998) indicated that gay respondents defined domestic violence in similar ways as domestic violence in heterosexual relationships, with an emphasis on power and control. Respondents also provide reasons for domestic violence like jealousy, control, and internalized homophobia. While focusing on the social construction of masculinity in gay relationships, Cruz (2000) documented male socialization and hegemonic masculinity patterns as having an impact on those who engage in violent behaviors. Last, in Cruz and Peralta (2001), respondents reported that alcohol and drug use played a role in gay male domestic violence.
While we tend to frequently ask why a battered victim stays in an abusive relationship, the victim is better served by the question, “Why does the batterer do it?” so that as members of the community, we take a more feminist approach to the fact that women are subjugated and often stay in violent relationships for reasons that an onlooker cannot understand or relate to. The goal in rethinking the questions we ask of victims staying in violent relationships is also to cease blaming the victim and insist that the responsibility be placed where it should, with the perpetrator. However, the domestic violence literature remains replete with criticisms for asking the question “Why doesn’t she just leave?” of women who are unable or unwilling to leave a partner who batters (for example, see Barnett, Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 1997; Goetting, 1999; Jones, 2000).
The literature thus documents reasons why women stay. One of these reasons cited is the existence of the love that a victim has for the perpetrator within a violent relationship (Goetting, 1999). Gelles & Strauss (1988) assert it is mythical to believe that love and violence do not (or cannot) coexist. Love is the reason that people come together in the first place, and pondering the possibility that once a relationship becomes violent or abusive that emotion ceases to exist is unrealistic for the victim and serves to nullify the emotional attachment.
Lenore Walker (1979) indicates relationships are not necessarily violent 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This also serves as a reason some victims stay in abusive relationships. Walker’s research suggests violence in intimate relationships is cyclical. The first phase in this cycle is the “tension building phase” whereby stressors mount. These stressors vary from such things as financial issues to drug or alcohol abuse or other such personal sources of anxiety for the family and for the perpetrator. These mounting stressors eventually lead to the second phase, which is the actual episode of violence or abuse. This outbreak can vary from mild to severe and can also vary from verbal abuse to physical violence (Pagelow, 1984). The third phase is the “honeymoon phase” whereby a perpetrator may apologize profusely and offer a litany of “explanations” (i.e., excuses) for committing various acts. A batterer indicating that “he loves the victim,” “did not mean to do it,” and “will not do it again,” serves to keep a battered woman with him. Related to this cycle of violence, is the concept of time and the realization that the honeymoon phase can last from a day to a week to a year or several years, whereby the relationship is virtually free of physical abuse. This violence-free time frame often works to keep the victim from leaving.
Another reason women stay with their batterers is a fear of escalated violence (Pagelow, 1984). Often, victims are threatened with their lives if they leave the perpetrator. Not surprisingly, an abusive former partner will frequently stalk a victimized woman (Goetting, 1999; Jones, 2000). Thus, a victim might consider her present circumstance of staying safer than eminent death resulting from leaving a significant other who could become enraged and lethal.
The issue of dependence manifests itself in various ways: financial, emotional, and physical. Dependence in general is often created in situations where a batterer isolates his partner from friends and family, so that she is completely dependent on him for these three crucial reasons. Financial insecurity by women in general, and by battered women specifically, is well documented (Goetting, 1999; Pagelow, 1984). First, the earning potential of women, exemplified by remembering that women continue to earn about 75% of what men do, serves to create situations where a victim is financially dependent on her husband or male partner (Castro, 1998). Thus, it is often economically not feasible for a woman to leave a two-earner household. This financial dependence should be considered as one of the ramifications of a sexist labor market. In a very direct way, this social structural factor contributes to keeping victims in an abusive home (see DeMaris & Swinford, 1996; Gondolf & Fisher, 1991; Jones, 2000; Pagelow, 1984).
Emotional dependence is another reason victims stay with batterers. Victims frequently have cited the case where an abuser creates emotional dependence by telling her that she will not find love again, that she will most assuredly spend the rest of her life alone, or that he is the best thing that has ever happened to her. Physical dependence may be described in the situation where a victim, for reasons of physical incapacity, is truly dependent on her abuser. Literature related to elderly abuse is replete with cases whereby a victim is physically dependent on an abuser (Pagelow, 1984; Utech, 1994).
Women frequently remain in their violent homes for reasons related to their vows of marriage or interpersonal commitment to a romantic partner (Gelles & Strauss, 1988; Pagelow, 1984). A victim often values a relationship so much and adheres strictly not only to formal wedding vows but to the ideologies surrounding a long-term romantic relationship that she may feel obligated to remain in the family and make it work “at all costs—for better or for worse.” Not only do women stay in violent relationships for this reason, but they may also fear not finding another relationship, so that the possibility of being alone, or loneliness, may be worse than living with an abusive partner. This feeling of relationship commitment can also lead to feelings of guilt, which keep women in abusive relationships (Pagelow, 1984; Sleutal, 1998).
Also related to relationship ideology, persons victimized stay because of a hope for change from the batterer (Goetting, 1999). One may feel compelled to “tame the beast,” so to speak, whereby a victim would facilitate the change in the perpetrator. This is also a characteristic of the cycle of violence, whereby a relationship is not necessarily continuously violent. A victim may also stay in a relationship due to a lack of social and personal support for exiting the violent home (Jones, 2000).
Other reasons offered for remaining in an abusive relationship are the attempt to stop the violence and one’s adaptation to the abuse (Barrett, Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 1997). Attempts at stopping the violence often result in the killing of a spouse with the initiation of a counter attack or self-defense. Last, one might become adapted to the abusive relationship using several coping mechanisms, one of which is denial, so that “by denying that their mates harm them or even intended to, battered women can negate the danger they confront” (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 1997, p. 223). This might also be termed “learned helplessness” (Gelles & Strauss, 1988; Pagelow, 1984). A victim might also justify controlling and abusive behaviors as an outward sign of caring or love from the batterer.
These reasons are not specific to heterosexual relationships. In fact, if we consider the various dynamics of any interpersonal relationship we might realize how heterosexual relationships are similar to homosexual relationships. Additionally, however, if we think in terms of behaviors associated with a batterer role and those associated with a victim role, it becomes a bit clearer just how alike domestic violence in heterosexual relationships is to that experienced by gay men in their own intimate partnerships.
The purpose of this research was to explore domestic violence in same-sex relationships. The project was grounded in exploration and discovery, rather than in the testing of hypotheses. Additionally, the concepts of “violence” and “abuse” were not conceptualized or operationalized, so that respondents were able to define these terms for themselves and report on their personal meanings.(1)
The University Human Subjects Review Board granted ethical approval for the project. Twenty-five men who self-identified as gay or bisexual were selected via a snowball and purposive sampling methodology. Entrée into the field was initially granted via contacts with persons who worked with a Dallas area social service agency. Respondents themselves would recommend that I speak to another friend or two who fit criteria for inclusion in this study. Criteria for inclusion were that the respondent self-identify as gay or bisexual and indicate that he had experience in a gay relationship where violence or abuse was present.
Respondents agreed to participate in this project by sitting for in-depth interviews that lasted from an hour to an hour and a half. All persons gave informed consent to be audiotaped and were told that all information would be confidential. Data were collected from September 1995 to May 1996.
A semi-structured open-ended interview guide consisting of 25 questions was developed to explore the existence of domestic violence within gay male relationships. Demographic questions were asked in addition to questions about the types of violence or abuse encountered in a gay relationship; reasons for staying in the relationship; perceived need for services in the gay community and Dallas area; and perceived prevalence of gay male domestic violence. The questions guiding this particular study were (1) How were domestic violence and abuse defined for the respondent?; (2) What specific types of violence or abuse have respondents experienced?; and (3) Why do respondents think these forms of domestic violence occur in same-sex relationships?
All 25 men self-identified as gay or bisexual. The age range of the respondents varied from 23 to 43, with the mean being 32. The level of education ranged from completion of the 11th grade to postgraduate work. As it relates to respondent employment, the range varied from persons being disabled and/or unemployed to being employed full-time.
Respondents were generally out of their abusive relationships. Of the 25, only two were still in an abusive relationship. All others had exited the relationship in question and had either remained single or had since formed other gay romantic relationships. The length of time each respondent had endured the abusive relationship varied from 10 months to 10 years, with the mean length of time in the relationship being three years, nine months. The length of time one had been out of the abusive relationship varied from one week to 14 years, with the average being four years, five months.
Grounded theory was the analytical technique utilized in this study, as the purpose was to explore domestic violence in gay male relationships. This technique is pertinent and appropriate for allowing respondents to inform the development of theory and enable the creation of hypotheses (see Berg 2001; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Lofland & Lofland, 1995). Persons were asked the question “What factors contributed to your staying in the relationship?” An initial content analysis revealed specific reasons respondents had for staying in their abusive relationship. These were grouped into 14 categories and are financial dependence, naïveté/inexperience, love, hope for change, loneliness, commitment, emotional dependence, being enabled by the cycle of violence, fear, guilt, low self-esteem, physical attraction, physical dependence, and feeling trapped.
Table 1 lists the coded and compiled reasons given for staying in the violent relationship. One of the respondents was not asked this question.(2) Additionally, two persons were still in their relationship at the time of the interview. The N for listed reasons is 43, as some persons gave more than one reason for staying.
A victim’s financial dependence on the batterer is generally not something we might expect to have such a large role in male-male relationships, where we continue to value the work of men over the work of women (Castro, 1998). However, where we might attribute a sexist labor market to serve to subjugate women and “trap” them into financial dependence, that financial reality serves to keep violent gay male relationships together as well. In fact, financial dependence was cited eight of the 43 (18.6%) times by respondents as reasons for staying with abusive partners. An example of this is Dan’s (age 36) quote:
Well, I didn’t stay very long, actually. When I realized that the violent patterns or abusive patterns, which did include some violence, were probably not going to change a lot, [I left]. Or, I actually believed that they were going to get worse [so I left]. The biggest reason, honestly, that I was in the relationship was that I was a student and didn’t feel that I had a way out. That economically, I was trapped in the relationship.
Henry (33) mimics the sentiment by saying:
Part of it I’d say would probably be insecurity. A lot of it was financial insecurity. Actually, probably most of it was financial insecurity. You know, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent on my own.
Edward (25) said, “Money issues;” Paul (35) said, “Well, we had a company together, and I was afraid to go it alone;” and Peter (35) talked about “financial security.” These quotes exemplify that even though men have more earning power, they too, are victimized by financial inequality within a relationship and the reality that they are often economically dependent on an abusive significant other.
Naiveté about Violence/Inexperience with Gay Relationships
The issues of naïveté or inexperience with same-sex relationships are interesting to explore, as the gay community seemingly does not have comparable relationships to emulate. Without public or widespread social support, gays and lesbians who are successfully coupled are not necessarily as visible as they can be so that positive relationship styles and modes for coping in a same-sex relationship are generally hidden from view. This is unique to same-sex relationships, as examples of “positive” heterosexual relationship models are replete, within our culture.
This lack of knowledge regarding violence or having same-sex couples to emulate was voiced 16.3% of the time. With regard to this naïveté or inexperience, Barry (30) said:
…Not noticing at first what was going on. And I really didn’t pay attention till after I got out of the relationship and looked back did I really notice what was going on.
John (25) initially responded with “probably my age” to the question asking for contributing factors for staying in the relationship. Upon asking for clarification, he indicated:
[I was] 20. Inexperience in other relationships, period. Not having anything to compare it to. And not knowing if that was normal.
Mark (40) said, “I had just come out, [that] was primarily it” and “…inexperience with the gay lifestyle” as reasons for staying in the relationship. Last, Tom (31) said, “Immaturity on my part.”
Love was the next reason most often cited by respondents for remaining in their abusive relationships. Again, Gelles and Strauss (1988) indicate that it is wrong to think that violence and love do not coexist. As researchers, advocates, policymakers, and social service agents, we need to remind ourselves consistently that love does exist in a violent relationship. In fact, this has repeatedly served to explain why battered women stay with their violent husbands. With this sample of battered gay men, love was mentioned on six (14%) occasions. Exemplifying this sentiment are the following quotes. Harry (32) said,
I subscribe to a theory that says if your passion is real deep or real high with this person, then that is why you stay in it. After a physical episode has happened, your passion is so high. You’re glad it’s over, and of course, the other person comes to you and says, “I’m sorry,” and there’s some tears. Well, then there’s a little drama there and you kind of feed off that and you’re in love with this person. So you make excuses for it, or yourself, or “It’ll only happen this time,” and stuff like that.
James (34) also said, “I stayed in it because…I mean I loved him. I love him. I don’t love him today, I just won’t take any of that crap.” John (25) in addition to talking about his lack of experience with gay relationships also said that he stayed with his partner because “…just the fact that I think I was really and truly in love with him.” Last, Mike (31) said, “Because I thought I was really in love with the person,” while Rob (30) stated plainly, “I loved him.”
Hope for Change
Goetting (1998) indicates that women stay with violent partners because they hope the batterer will change and stop the abuse. This hope for change is also kept alive by the fact that violence in relationships is cyclical, and that while there is a pattern of abusive behaviors, these do not necessarily exist on a continual basis. This was the situation for four of the 25 respondents, as they stayed in their relationship in hopes that the abusive partner would change and the violent behaviors would cease. Examples of quotes come from Edward (25), “I always thought, `Oh, it’ll get better,’ or `It’ll stop,’“ and Frank (41), who said,
Always thinking that, “This can change” or “I can make it better. Somehow, I can make it work.” You know, [even though] many times wanting to walk out, just leave; forget the whole thing.
Roger (37) also said, “Because you try to help and be human…” indicating during the interview that he wanted things to change and that he hoped he could facilitate that change. Here we see the same gendered behavior whereby a female victim stays with a male batterer not only because the physical abuse may not be continuous (in addition to a myriad of other reasons), but because she sees some good in the individual that she married. This view of “he’s not all bad” or “sometimes he’s very nice to me” affects gay relationships in the same way as it does heterosexual ones.
Some of the respondents reported they were afraid of being alone and that was the reason for staying with an abusive partner. In effect, to these men, existing in an abusive relationship was better than being a single gay man. Exemplifying the sentiment, Frank (41) said, “Not wanting to be by myself,” while Edward (25) said, “I have a fear of being on my own…,” and James (34) said, “Because I had, you know, deep-rooted issues about abandonment.”
This is important, I think, as we remember how deeply ingrained our notions of coupling are. Our culture abounds with messages regarding the fact that there is someone for everyone, “no man is an island,” the existence of “soul-mates,” “true loves,” or “split aparts.” For gay men, this socialization toward coupling and finding “the one” is obviously no different, in spite of stereotypes to the contrary.
Several researchers note women staying with abusive partners because of their (women’s) ideas of relationship commitment (Gelles & Strauss, 1988; Pagelow, 1984). And, contrary to the stereotype of gay men not being relationship oriented and being uninterested in coupling and monogamy, several men reported that a strong level of commitment kept them with an abusive partner. For example, Bill (25) said, “I had been in it too long to just let everything go and give up on it.” More telling, however, are what James (34) and Marty (39) said:
(James) I felt like I’d made a commitment. I think [if] we look at [a] heterosexual relationship versus a gay relationship…in a heterosexual marriage; you can’t just walk away, you know, at the drop of a hat. If, probably if Mark (pseudonym) and I hadn’t…were married, in some sense, you know, had gone through some legal marriage, it would have been more difficult to leave. Even, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have left, I would have left, but I think maybe you can … There’s something there that makes you want to stay to try to work out issues. I was committed to the relationship.
(Marty) I thought you were supposed to make it work. You know, kind of like the hetero thing, for better or for worse type, and then finally I just kind of reached that saturation point. It was like, “I can’t do it anymore.”
Again, these quotes are illusory and serve to reiterate the fact that persons, whether homosexual or not, continue to be socialized in a heterosexual world whereby the same values of coupling and relationship commitment are transmitted from one generation to the next. In fact, coupling might take on a more important role in the gay/lesbian community as there is a lack of structural support for those who are involved in same-sex relationships.
Respondents 7% of the time cited emotional dependence as their reason for staying with an abusive partner. In this context, they talked about relying on the batterer in an emotional sense and of “security.” For several persons, isolation from friends and family due to one’s homosexuality was given as a reason for an emotional dependence on the abusive partner.
The Cycle of Violence and Fear
In this sample, the cycle of violence would facilitate the victim’s staying with a batterer when we remember that, again, relationships are not necessarily physically violent on a continuous basis. The “honeymoon phase” is the time whereby a batterer expresses some remorse. The victim is enabled by this phase and is generally convinced that things are not all that bad; or not bad so often that he needs to leave; or that the batterer really loves him. By way of illustration, Chris (25) said, “He would come back and do the apology. He would just say, `I’m sorry.’“ Additionally, Roger (37) said, “The person shows a little affection for a little while and it’s like a vicious cycle.”
With regard to experiencing fear, we know that frequently victims stay with abusive partners because of a fear of either escalated violence or death. Two respondents in this study said they were fearful of the batterer so that they stayed in the relationship. Tony (32) exemplifies the situation whereby a respondent is often stalked and harassed by an abusive partner after exiting a relationship. He said, “I think the reason I didn’t leave is fear for myself and fear for the safety of my family.” When I probed and asked about what specifically, Tony said:
That I would be stalked. That my family would be stalked. And that is happening at this time. Well, he doesn’t know where I am, but he’s like two steps behind me. He knows I’m in Dallas, and he’s done some incredible things to find me. And he still harasses my parents on the phone every now and then—calls them at work. Grandparents, and anybody he feels like calling. Fear of repercussion. Fear that he would just totally disrupt my life and theirs. And of course, I did have some fear that, I don’t know if I ever thought he would ever really kill me, but I really don’t know. I don’t want to take the chance.
Gay victims are not immune to the great lengths to which abusive partners go to get at them. This is evident in Tony’s account. Tony did state in the interview that, while his ex-partner lived in Houston (4.5 hours away by car), Tony had fled to Dallas and assumed a new identity, complete with a hair color change, name change, social security number change, etc. After Tony fled, the ex-partner placed a “missing person” ad in a local gay/lesbian publication and set up a toll-free number for persons to call regarding his whereabouts, so that he could find Tony.
Guilt, Low Self-Esteem, Physical Attraction, Physical Dependence, and Feeling Trapped
One respondent replied in each of the categories of guilt, low self-esteem, physical attraction, physical dependence, and feeling trapped. Ben stated his guilt resulted from being told by the partner that he had caused the violent episodes. In fact, Ben (23) said,
I don’t know, I had a sense of guilt and the fact that I had been the aggressor at some points. When he was the aggressor, I felt bad because in a way, I felt like I caused him to do that.
Stan (34) expressed:
Well, I had very low self-esteem and I just felt that being with someone and being abused emotionally and physically, on occasion, was just the price I had to pay to have someone.
Phil (26) stayed with his partner because he was physically attracted to him. Additionally, Tom (31) said he was physically dependent on the abusive ex-partner. Last, Edward (25) said the primary reason he stayed with his abusive partner is because he “felt trapped.”
The study of gay male domestic violence continues to be an important endeavor. It is only through further research and analysis of the life situations of gay men in these relationships that we can address the problem; work to eliminate contributing or precipitating factors; aid gay men in maintaining functional, happy, and healthy relationships; and move to eradicate family violence in these households.
Several researchers have reported instances where gay male domestic violence seems to resemble that experienced within a heterosexual relationship (Cruz & Firestone, 1998; Island & Letellier, 1991; Merrill, 1998; Merrill & Wolfe, 2000). Additionally, the assertion that gay men are socialized based on gender, rather than sexual orientation, should contribute to the argument that gay male domestic violence is not mere mutual combat or a fight among equals due to emotional attachments and involvement (Cruz, 2000; Island & Letellier, 1991; Merrill, 1998). These intense and intimate involvements make the fighting much more difficult to deal with, emotionally (see Gelles & Strauss, 1988). Examining these similarities while probing the differences is important. For example, Miller, Bobner, and Zarsky (2000) write about sexual-identity development and the fact that within same-sex relationships, it can contribute to violence and abuse. Additionally, issues of internalized homophobia, HIV/AIDS, and outing have emerged from other research studies exploring gay male domestic violence (see Cruz & Firestone, 1998; Merrill 1998). Again, similarities and differences between heterosexual and homosexual abusers and victims should continue to be disentangled.
Respondents in this article not only asserted that they stayed in abusive relationships for the same reasons that other gay men stayed in their abusive relationships, but they stayed for reasons that are documented for women staying with abusive heterosexual male partners. This is an important finding. Perhaps more work can continue to bridge the gap between heterosexual family violence and gay family violence. Doing this will enable the creation of both social policy and public agencies to serve members of this community.
An interesting point for further examination is the difficulty involved in maintaining employment when one is battered. Much of the domestic violence literature relates details of women missing work due to visible bruises and broken bones (Jones, 2000). When I contemplate the details of the severity of abuse experienced by men in this study (one respondent had his nose bitten off, “all the way to the septum”), it is probably safe to presume that this might have played a role in ensuring a victim’s economic dependence in several instances. Another detailed qualitative study should seek to discover the extent to which economic dependence is a factor in why gay men stay in abusive relationships.
The lack of societal support documented in the literature and cited as a plausible reason for women remaining in an abusive relationship is interesting to ponder with this specific population as well. Researchers indicate that interaction with police is often less than helpful or empowering (Baker, 1997; Jones, 2000). Two respondents in this study indicated being confronted with homophobic and heterosexist attitudes when law enforcement agents and medical personnel presented themselves for aid. So where women receive no support, what could be said for gay men and the [lack of] formal and structured support for their relationships? It is vital to study this because there is very little informal and virtually no formal socio-legal support for the maintenance of gay relationships.
A critical question offered for further study is the notion of a gay male perhaps being attracted to violence or engaging in the construction of a sort of hypermasculinity. While men’s studies scholars call for a new masculinity releasing men of their perceived responsibility to adhere to specific gender role behaviors, I wonder about gay men and their pursuit of masculinity—that which is personal and that sought in a partner. It is only through continued research and analysis that questions such as these can be responded to, while new lines of query are generated.
Future research related to gay male domestic violence ought to disentangle the “intergenerational transmission” theory of domestic violence. Do gay men who witness their parents being abusive become abusers, victims, or neither? This question was not the focus of this study, but would be helpful to examine in a future research project.
While this study was exploratory and a pilot project for future work, interviewing a larger sample will be helpful so that stories of other men in similar situations can be compared to existing empirical evidence that is gay-specific or we can continue to make comparisons to the domestic violence experienced in heterosexual relationships. It is through further research and writing with other respondent pools that patterns of this type of behavior can continue to be documented and examined.