Dating abuse creates special challenges for the LGBTQ community, which may not have the resources available to it that heterosexual couples do.
continued As is true in heterosexual relationships, escaping an abusive relationship is never as simple as just leaving. That’s especially true in teen dating relationships when young people are still figuring out their sexuality.
“If I’m figuring out how I identify and how I feel and I don’t have the confidence to create boundaries, that’s a piece of the abuse,” Braley said. “If a kid isn’t out to anybody, they’re scared. They’re afraid of what their family is going to say. In some cases, they don’t have the support of their families. In a relationship, a lot of times, your first relationship, it’s nice to get attention. It’s nice to have someone like you. When issues arise, if my partner is abusing me, I’m likely to try to justify it.”
So where can kids turn in that situation?
One resource that local high schools offer for LGBTQ students are Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). Both Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse have GSAs, which aim to make the school community safe and welcoming to all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Liverpool’s GSA is advised by Kate Caveny, a special education teacher who is herself gay. She and her partner have five children.
“I make the kids aware of that so that they understand that I know where they’re coming from,” Caveny said. “I’ve been through what they have, so they can come to me and I can relate.”
However, Caveny said many students are reluctant to turn to an adult for help should they find themselves in an abusive relationship.
“A lot of the difficulties they face in a dating relationship are similar to those they find in their friendships and maintenance of those relationships, the stress and pressures on those relationships,” Caveny said. “Kids who used to be their friends are no longer their friends. They’re just trying to get through it. We try to get them to come to an adult and talk about it, but they think they can take care of it on their own. ‘I was bullied all through middle school. I know I can handle it on my own.’ They don’t know. They’re not equipped.”