Sam was three months pregnant when her girlfriend Lynn raped her. They were at home. Sensing that Lynn wanted sex, Sam decided to tell her that she did not. “She suddenly got nasty,” says Sam, flatly. “She was physically a lot bigger than me. She pinned me against a doorway and said, ‘I’ll have what I fucking like if I fucking want it.’ She assaulted me.”
Sam is in her early thirties. It is only in the last few months she has felt able to talk about the events of her early twenties. She looks up briefly, as we sit talking in a half-empty restaurant, and asks, “How do you say to your friends, ‘My girlfriend rapes me’ when their only mental definition of rape is a man forcing his penis inside a woman’s vagina? How do you say you were assaulted when it comes back to the idea of ‘that doesn’t count’? Well, it does count.”
It is a story that not only Sam finds difficult to tell, but one that many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people struggle to disclose. BuzzFeed News spoke to both LGBT survivors of domestic abuse and an organisation trying to help them – amid a backdrop of cuts to funding.
As the accounts of violence, rape, bullying, coercion, and control surfaced, sometimes for the first time, two questions began to form: What prevents LGBT people in particular from speaking out? And, what external forces are stopping them from finding safety?