What Compassion Accomplishes

6. Healthy Relationships Matter, No Matter Who is in Them

June 15, 2021 WCA_Boise Season 1 Episode 6
What Compassion Accomplishes
6. Healthy Relationships Matter, No Matter Who is in Them
Show Notes Transcript

In today's episode, Cory and Chris talk with Crispin Gravatt, activist and community member. Tune in to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community and the impact that domestic and sexual violence has on the community.  What can we do to help? Crispin has an important message and call to action to help break the cycle of abuse.

If you or someone you care about have experienced domestic, dating or sexual violence please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or one of the WCA's 24-hour hotlines at 208-343-7025 or 208-345-7273.

Follow us on social media!
@wca_boise

For more information and resources, check out these websites!
wcaboise.org
lovisrespect.org

Want to hear a specific topic? Contact us at outreach@wcaboise.org

Intro:

Welcome to what compassion accomplishes a podcast dedicated to sharing information, ideas and resources about domestic abuse and sexual assault. The topics discussed in this podcast, including survivor stories, supportive services, and domestic abuse or sexual violence can be difficult, and we urge you to listen with care. Our hosts are not licensed counselors or mental health professionals. If you or someone you care about have experienced domestic dating, or sexual violence, please call the WCA 24 hour hotline at 208-343-7025 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233. You can also find more resources in the description of this podcast.

Cory Mikhals:

I am Cory Mikhals along with Chris Davis. And this is what compassion accomplishes. How're you doing today, Chris?

Chris Davis:

I'm doing well Cory. It's great to be here. I am so excited to have our special friend Crispin. In the studio with us today. Crispin is a longtime friend to the WCA. And I'm a big fan of Crispin. And he's here today to talk to some very talk about some very important issues and things we've been really working on and focusing on at the WCA. And then his issues in the LGBTQIA community and specifically barriers they face to receiving services when they're victims of domestic abuse, but in the broader sense of just things that they maybe deal with every day, and what that looks like for members of that community. And I really appreciate the time, you taking the time to come down and just talk with us, Crispin.

Crispin Gravatt:

Well, I'm happy to be here. Thanks. Thanks to you both and big fan of the Women's and Children's Alliance as well.

Chris Davis:

Thank you. So tell us Crispin what is on your mind today?

Crispin Gravatt:

Oh, well, I've got so much on my mind. It is a currently Pride Month. So my chosen family is at the front forefront of my mind, the LGBTQIA+ community and making the world a little bit of a better place for myself and my friends and family. And so really just introducing the community to folks, because absolutely here LGBTQIA+, they might get mixed up in the alphabet soup of it all. I've heard that a lot. So let's break that down. So LGBTQIA+ there are a few letters and a symbol there. What does it mean? so it stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, and plus, I missed the Q, the Q was queer. Okay, see, I got lost in the super easy, so I understand. But generally speaking, it is a community of sexual orientation and gender, gender expression, minorities. And really, it is a vast and diverse community all around the world. And my experience with it, even though I am part of the family is itself very narrow. It gender and sexuality are culturally dependent and vary all over the world. So I can speak to the subset that I'm familiar with, sort of the dominant culture, United States Western culture, right, as far as I've experienced it. So that's my first caveat in in discussing some of this. But for many of us in the family, I'll call it right in the alphabet soup family, really surviving in a world that is sort of designed against us, has made us resilient. And that's one of the common threads that I have really taken note of, among my family, being able to wake up every day, breathe in and out and live and express ourselves as much as we are able to, in the face of resistance, right has made us absolutely resilient and connected in ways in really important and really powerful ways that I think a lot of people don't realize. So that's really leading with the strength of our community. So there are also because we are gender and sexual minorities. There are also a few other sort of common experiences that we might have, that shaped the way that we move through the world the way that we are able to move through the world. And the first and most obvious of those is coming out, right, how many straight people have to come out how many cisgender people have to come out as straight or cisgender. Cisgender meaning that you identify with the gender that you're assigned at birth, and the experience of coming out is or can be a really terrifying one. Especially for a lot of communities throughout Idaho, even here in Boise. Yeah. Because in one breath, everything can change. And that experience of taking that deep breath and saying something that can't be unsaid to someone is one of the biggest leaps of faith that I think any human can take.

Chris Davis:

You know, Crispin, when you and I were talking the other day, in preparing for this, you said something that really struck me. And I, I guess it weighed on me because I, I never really thought about it that people in your community and your family have to come out repeatedly, over and over and over. And, you know, I live in this world of domestic violence, sexual assault, I talk about it over and over, doesn't mean it happens to me. But sometimes I feel the weight of it, you know, talking about it, educating it thinking about how do I how do I rephrase it? How do I get people to listen to me, because I want them to understand, I'm thinking about changing culture and community, right? It's important to me, but at the end of the day, I go home, and I try to check it off. But for somebody who's impacted, because we know that members of your family, your chosen family, are disproportionately affected. And if they have to come out, to think about reporting, or asking for help, and the barriers that they face, or coming out to try to get a new job, or coming out to seek housing assistance, and all of those things, you connected that doubt for me, but they're coming out. And even, you know, maybe to stand in line to get a cup of coffee, right? The smallest things in my everyday life, and you add that factor in and not knowing if they're going to be rejected, or ridiculed or humiliated, or just accepted by the people around them that are important to them. That's monumentous. And to me, that was just overwhelming. And I can't imagine what that must be like,

Crispin Gravatt:

Every time we make a new friend, or go to a new workplace, or even just meet someone new in an environment like this coming out as a constant process. And it gets not easier necessarily, but more familiar. Right?

Chris Davis:

So you go back to that resilience, I mean, you have to, you know,

Crispin Gravatt:

Yeah. And so the flip side of that, if the fatigue builds up, some in the community are able to fit in or pass is a term that we use in the community passing means passing for straight or passing for cisgender. Just to make things easier. A lot of folks, especially in communities that generally are, that generally have a lot of work still to do. It may be easier just to hide a portion of yourself or not disclose a bit of who you are.

Chris Davis:

What is the result of that? What does it do to you? Yeah, yeah, you know, what's the damage that it does? Right?

Crispin Gravatt:

Everybody has their own arithmetic, okay. And their own metrics for the decisions that they make. And any decision that anyone makes in regards to coming out or not, is theirs and valid, right, and perfectly fine. For many people, the primary factor is just personal health and safety. Yeah. And so in order to preserve safety, for too many people, that means not disclosing not coming out, passing,

Chris Davis:

Talking about safety and passing. That is something that I think a lot of people don't realize or recognize the actual personal safety, personal safety. That is a real issue for a lot of the members in your community and your family is that that's a real issue with even within their own immediate family, their their family. And that's pretty horrifying to me. Right? That they, there's a real risk of being assaulted, physically assaulted, sexually assaulted, trying to fix them. Right. Trying to not seem.

Crispin Gravatt:

That's part of the terrifying unknown on the other end of that deep breath before, before saying the words that can't be unset before coming out, right. That is one of the possibilities. We measure and why it takes far too many of us far too long and far too much courage and effort to actually come out to people who should love and care for us. And in in all this as well, in the broader cultural sense. Another difficulty that the community faces that is slowly changing is finding the kind of role models that we can emulate borrow from draw inspiration from to build our own healthy relationships. For far too long queer characters in media and film, television, take your pick popular film and television have been either Comic Relief or tragic stories. Right? Even still, we still see movies where the queer relationship is a tragic story, modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet or something like that. That's slowly changing. Bit by bit, we have some healthier role models, but the impact of media on establishing norms for relationships, not just for those in a relationship, but also for those on the outside seeing a relationship. Slowly that can help normalize and de stigmatize a lot of what we experience in the family, just in our everyday lives. And just one example of the power of that growing up, I grew up with Will and Grace. Yes, right.

Chris Davis:

That's what came to my mind. Yeah, yeah.

Crispin Gravatt:

And even like, starting to watch that show, for a while, I thought that, like being queer was something that was just made up for comedic effect. I didn't think that people actually lived like that come to find out we do, right. And so that's one example of the power of media pushing forward bit by bit. And so having those sort of examples to help break down those barriers destigmatize and normalize a lot of different relationship structures, different sexualities, and gender identities and so on. I think that is a really powerful component, as well, because when it comes right down to it, healthy relationships matter, no matter who is in them, or what they look like. And because a lot of different kinds of people have a lot of different kinds of relationship, it's important for us to understand how these relationships and how the individuals in these relationships can vary in order to better respond to the full contours of the human experience.

Chris Davis:

So well said, so Well said, want to go back to the beginning of that healthy relationships matter, no matter who is in them. Yep. And June is Pride Month. It's also Men's Health Month. It's also immigrant Heritage Month. It's also I think, that's elder, national elder week, this week. Again, healthy relationships matter, no matter who is in them. And we need to continue to work to recognize that and learn more about people who were not the same as we are, and not try to force our own belief systems on others, because not everybody, excuse me, not everybody is the same as I am. And they don't live in the same family structure, they may not think the same as I am, and they may not react, but they still deserve to live in safe and healthy relationships. Yes, period. hard stop, simply. So everyone needs to take a hard look inside themselves. I really truly believe and then really open our eyes and start to have conversations. So...

Cory Mikhals:

It, It breaks my heart at the level of Well, I'm gonna say ignorance that still exists in our world, because I personally, if someone finds love, and it's, you know, both consenting adults, you know, I don't care where they find that love. Love is so rare to find. And yet so many people are so worried about what someone else's love and life looks like. And instead of focusing on themselves, and we still have a whole lot of that ignorance in our world, but as you said, Crispin, it's slowly getting better, but we still got a lot of work to do like

Crispin Gravatt:

Folks like you two. You're putting in a lot of work to make sure that we do move the needle bit by bit.

Chris Davis:

And by that we're a big giant ship in the middle of the ocean. It's really hard to turn it. But we're just we're pulling that steering wheel. Trust me. There's, there's more than just us here too. There are many people trying to turn well, but absolutely a lot.

Cory Mikhals:

And like you were saying about media, I have been noticing a lot with like, you know, popular television shows, I'll just say, because of some of the ones that my wife and I watched like Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago, all the all the Chicago's

Chris Davis:

Addressing LGBTQIA addressing some bipoc issues, they are addressing actually some domestic abuse, sexual assault, which I am I like What, what is that? Like? Oh, I appreciate them addressing some of these cultural issues.

Cory Mikhals:

Yeah but it wasn't just a side note character. I mean, there's like main characters than and it's, they don't focus on that part. It's just, and I appreciate that, because it should just be normal. No one's going to look at my wife and I and go, ooh, look at them. Well, it should be the same with two men to women. Whatever, you know, the the combination there happens to be, it should just be all look at the happy couple.

Crispin Gravatt:

Right. And what I think a lot of these shows that I've seen, I haven't regularly watched NBC since before they discovered Chicago exists. From what I've seen, what a lot of media does, in order to raise awareness for some of these issues is also dive into what we might consider the dark side, yeah, dive into some of the abuse and power control to make sure that we can see what that looks like and recognize it when it's happening. So the end provide examples of how to respond. And that is a very crucial component to the work that we're all doing to move the needle, being able to really understand what the contours of power and control look like, allow us to better shape emergency services, support services, and even just respond one on one as human people recognizing and helping someone escape from power and control that is being exercised against them. And so being able to, in this instance, recognize how power and control plays might play out a little bit differently in the LGBTQ plus community than it would in what has sort of existed as the de facto norm that cisgender heterosexual norm of relationship structures of power and control. Because when we narrow our scope, it leaves out some very important pieces to give us a more complete picture. And so there are a few, I can give you a few examples of how like the additional layers that we might see in queer relationships that might not have crossed our minds when we consider what power and control being exercised by an abuser looks like. One of them is just reinforcing internalized homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, or heterosexism. So growing up in a world that is shaped by cisgender heterosexual people, it's so easy to internalize into just the deepest, deepest recesses of our psyche, a certain guilt associated with the part of our identity. And so, finding ways to really pinpoint that guilt, as an abuser would allow an abuser to put pressure on the pressure point, and really tear someone down emotionally. leveraging the weight of their identity against them. And then to build on that threatening to use homophobia biphobia transphobia, against someone, like threatening to out someone coming out should be someone's individual choice as to when and to whom they come out. And what we see far too often is abusers, threatening to disclose someone's identity someone's relationship with their employer, or with their friends or family or with anyone else as a means to leverage that pressure against them and force them into doing something that they don't want to do. And the threat of outing someone is not just making Making things socially awkward, has very real consequences for, for example, in the majority of Idaho, where protections do not exist, for sexual orientation and gender identity, you could lose your job, your housing, your rights to certain kinds of health care, et cetera, et cetera. And then there's on on top of that sort of economic control, we know that financial abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse in relationships president.

Chris Davis:

and almost every single abusive relationship, regardless of the gender expression. very prevalent.

Crispin Gravatt:

Yeah. And so it especially in communities, where non discrimination ordinances do not include sexual orientation and gender identity. That one bit of information, threatening to out someone to an employer and risking their source of income is really a threat to their financial freedom, a threat to their freedom as a person to make enough to live on their own. And it forces them into a whole a whole variety of abusive tactics. And then, in custody, custody is another example where we see protections might not exist for a variety of relationship types. Right now, custody arrangements are really just between two people. And we know that that excludes relationships that have more than two people. protections might not exist for LGBT couples, in the same way that they do, for example, in adoption. in a lot of instances, an adoptive parent in a same sex relationship might not have the same parental rights as, as their partner. And in custody arrangements in custody hearings, the threat of using homophobia biphobia, transphobia, and their associations there stereotypical associations with, for example, mental health issues. That is a very real threat that threatens the relationship between a parent and a child.

Chris Davis:

I think we've got some other things that Crispin is going to talk with us about in future episodes, like the panic defense and some of the other things that that homophobia is it can ruin lives, it can be deadly, it can be and it is, it is deadly beyond whether it's it causes people to die by suicide, or it causes homicides, or it ruin lives for any number of reasons. It is deadly folks, and we need to address it straight on and call it what it is. And it's not okay. And it is that's why we're here talking about it, we need to, we need to call it out when we see it. We need to stop people from ruining other people's lives because no one deserves healthy relationships, whether it's relationships with other people in in an intimate, intimate partner relationship, but it's friendships, its families, because we are all living breathing, human beings, and we all deserve respect

Crispin Gravatt:

And knowledge is really the most important tool that we can generate in order to save lives, ultimately. And language is one part of that knowledge, languages an incredibly important part of that knowledge. And language is constantly evolving. Another stereotype that I get directed at the family is look at all of these new fangled genders look at all of these new fangled relationship styles. When it's not new fangled at all.

Cory Mikhals:

Right?

Chris Davis:

We're just learning that we're learning the language.

Crispin Gravatt:

Yeah, it's existed throughout history. And being able to have a language to describe something to develop it to get enough of a critical mass, that it is now commonplace for people to understand what being non binary is, what being transgender is, what being gay is. Having the language to name something is really the first step in moving toward a radical acceptance of whatever we are, whatever phenomenon we are able to name and the contours of that language may change over time, as we've seen, things change drastically. But how, yeah, language is very important. And the other part of knowledge that is very important is really understanding what things look like on the ground, really treating domestic violence and sexual assault as a research problem. Right, and recognizing that in order to best address something like a public health crisis, like I believe sexual assault in domestic violence is absolutely, we really need to dive into some of the components that might have been left out of some of the established research. So I have some statistics actually from the National intimate partner and sexual violence survey.

Chris Davis:

Which is something we cite all the time. Yes, you and I talked about this, and I am excited for what Crispin is going to tell you. And he's also going to point out some of the issues with it. So isten up, folks, because he's also going to give you some walking orders , marching orders .All right, cleaning orders, little call to action, listen up.

Crispin Gravatt:

Well, so we recognize first and foremost, that research has not treated the LGBTQIA plus community very fairly throughout history. No, and it's only fairly recent, that inclusive terminology was included in surveys like, like these. And so what we have is an incomplete picture. But it's a starting point that can allow us to start to see some things that might have been out of sight before in the closet, if you will. So for example, from this survey, 47% of transgender people have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. And breaking this down even further trans people of color are even more likely to be sexually assaulted with American Indian, trans people. It's 65% of that population experiencing sexual violence at some point in their lives. 58% in Middle Eastern populations, 53% in black populations. And that is just assault. That is we also know that especially black trans women and other women of color, trans women of color are at an increased rate of violent hate crimes and homicides.

Chris Davis:

Yeah, incredibly high rate. But as Crispin knows, this, I'm looking at Crispin, you can't see Crispin. it's, it's, it's horrifying. It's frightening and scary. But the numbers that we have to look at, are so narrow, because we didn't start asking these questions and providing boxes for people to check that they could identify with, until very recently. So if you're just a man or a woman, check, check. Those are the stats we have before just the last few years.

Cory Mikhals:

But those are just the numbers that we know of.

Chris Davis:

Just those that we know of

Cory Mikhals:

How many others exactly, every single day.

Chris Davis:

And those are. They've been surveyed, they've been asked the question they've they've been gracious enough to be forthcoming, and brave enough to share the information. They've been in the right place in the right time to be asked the questions. So and that's something we say anytime we look at statistics, these are just the people who've come forward and been in the right place at the right time. Because we know domestic violence is so prevalent, sexual assault is so prevalent, and so many people never report, they never come forward and willingly give that information. So we know that people in the trans community in the LGBTQIA community are incredibly disproportionately impacted. Right.

Crispin Gravatt:

Right. It's compounding marginalization. Yeah. And that marginalization is conducted by people in positions of power and control. And so being able to name that helps give us power and direction for some of the actions that we can take. And one statistic just to drive home. Your message, Chris, from this survey is that in a study of male same sex relationships, the percentage of men who called the police for assistance after experiencing near lethal violence is staggering. staggeringly low 26%. Just about one quarter of men in same sex relationships, who experienced near lethal violence, felt the need to call police felt comfortable enough calling police for assistance.

Chris Davis:

And that's a whole nother podcast, right? That's a whole nother episode to dive into the why of that. Why they maybe didn't want to have to come out again. Would they be believed with something happened? Did they feel safe? Did they want to leave the relationship? I mean, there's there's So many that's a whole nother conversation. I would love to have goodwill. Did they? Did they think you know? Yes Did they think there would be services on the other side, which by the way, you can call the WCA hotline anytime 24 hours a day. Men we do, we do offer services for men, but, and a lot of men don't recognize that. And you don't have to report, which is also something a lot of people don't recognize another podcast another day. So nearly thought near lethal violence. And they don't report and they don't feel comfortable or we don't wait, I can't put a label on that. I don't know why. That;s horrifying.

Crispin Gravatt:

And so these are these, these statistics just drive home the importance of really understanding what the full contours are in order to respond. And just to put out some more statistics. bisexual women are more than two and a half times more likely than heterosexual women to have experienced intimate partner sexual violence. More than a quarter of gay men had experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetimes and just over 12% had experienced it within the past year. And then lifetime intimate partner violence among transgender people range from 31% to 50%. More than half and 45% of victims. And this is just from what we know from what we've been able to survey. And like Chris said, people who have had the the courage and ability to disclose 45% of victims do not report the violence that they experience to police because they do not believe that the police will help them.

Chris Davis:

That makes me sad, it makes me want to know more, and makes me want to have, it makes me want to keep going to have more conversations, to find out more and want to do more, but it makes me right now, it just makes me incredibly sad, and it breaks my heart.

Crispin Gravatt:

Well, and that is the first call to action. No more. And part of knowing more is doing a purposive, intensive review of the research that is currently out there, these statistics and the experiences that are currently out there, and having conversations like this. And the other part of that is to invest time, resources and effort into doing more research, doing more outreach, doing more intentional and intensive research to really understand and break these numbers down even more and get new numbers to be able to then inform services that are provided down the road.

Cory Mikhals:

Well, finally, finally, we are coming out of a don't ask don't tell world that, you know that I know I grew up in and all of us lived in so there wasn't the conversations there. We weren't able to, to move forward in any way without being able to have conversations like this without accepting the fact that that people find love in different ways. And that's different for each person. And we're finally getting to a point where it's starting to be accepted as it's okay. Starting. starting. starting.

Chris Davis:

Well, we will have at least a second podcast coming out soon.

Cory Mikhals:

Oh. I think we'll probably have a third or a fourth.

Chris Davis:

Yes. So again, we want to say it's Pride Month. We have Crispin in the studio, Happy Pride Month. And I want to say again, something really, really, really simple. But importantly, we want to leave with the Crispin said, healthy relationships matter, no matter who was in them. Yes, and I appreciate that. Those are words of wisdom. They're very simple, but sometimes they're really hard for people to grasp. And I'm going to keep repeating them. We're just going to keep repeating that until we can get people to listen. Because it seems so simple. And you know, it just it's just gonna keep repeating that maybe we should end every show like that Cory, okay. The relationships matter, no matter who is in them in the wise and the words of wise Crispin. Yeah. You've just been mortalized. We appreciate you taking the time to come down. today and June is Happy Pride Month. Happy Pride Month. Happy Pride Month.

Crispin Gravatt:

Happy Pride Month. I'm happy to be here. Thank you for having me. I look forward to future conversations,

Chris Davis:

talking about barriers. We're going to talk about what you can do as listeners and you you do have some marching orders some steps if you want to take to learn more, do some research, get out there. And Google we know everybody loves to Google and tune back into what compassion accomplishes and

Cory Mikhals:

all the information is right here in the description of the podcast. So click on the links there. If you are someone you know, is in an abusive situation. It's not okay. It's never okay. Call. There are people here to be able to help 24 hours a day. And we will talk more on the next episode of what compassion accomplishes

Chris Davis:

Bye Cory. Bye Crispin.

Intro:

Thank you for listening to this episode of what compassion accomplishes. Again, if you or someone you know has experienced domestic abuse, dating or sexual violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or the WCA's 24 hour hotline. 2083437025