So I tried a domestic violence women’s group


Verdict: The candles smelled nice. Content Notice for yet more clueless trans-antagonism.

Damned by faint praise, right?

In lieu of the non-existent counseling resources provided by the province and in lieu of private practice I presently cannot afford, I decided to attend a women’s group for DV survivors. There were some pretty horrifying stories and I identified a few features in these abusers that they had in common with each other–and my ex. So I guess I got something out of it.

The materials I’ve been accessing appear to be mostly right when put to the test. Abusive ideations might have a diversity of origins but their actual behaviour is fairly predictable, with a fairly small amount of variation. When it was my turn to speak, practically half the group said “wow, she’s a narcissist,” and I hadn’t actually mentioned my amateur hypothesis, so that was affirming. The facilitator also gently chided me for playing down my abuse, because I said I was grateful she hadn’t hit me (a white lie–I didn’t want to explain I was kinky to people who are still recovering from battery; nonetheless, the physical bruises were consensual). That was a necessary call out and I’m glad she did it.

But there were a few problems.

For one, I was the only one with a female partner abuser. Similar to literally all of the domestic violence resources I’ve accessed thus far, the assumption has always been that I’ve been abused by a man. Yes, there are gendered patterns in domestic violence, and the appropriate analysis often involves discussions of toxic masculinity and its formations of entitlement which lead to abuse. This is a useful tool for most DV survivors.

Yet that narrative breaks down when your abuser is a woman. She doesn’t have toxic masculinity, so what’s driving her entitlement? If the only narrative discussed is that of sexual violence, how does one contextualize emotional abuse and social isolation? The facilitators introduce all these feminist analyses on domestic violence and I’m just sitting here going… what about me? I don’t have kids to fight over or a court system to navigate and I don’t have any bruises I would take to the police as proof of abuse (because it would be a violation of my own ethics to claim the consensual bruises were not consensual).

So I was already feeling a bit out of place by the time problem #2 came up: trans-antagonistic microaggressions.

Oi fuckin’ vey.

Pride’s coming up, right? And these women are on board. Wonderful. Then Jane Doe shares an anecdote about the, I quote, “transgenders, you know, the men who dress like women.”

She carries on, gets a little applause for bringing her daughter to Pride and she’s so accepting and yadda yadda.



Nothing from the facilitator. Nothing from anyone else in the group. The little egg timer gets passed along and Jill Doe is sharing her story and no one is the wiser.

One of the things you agree to when you sign up for this group is to not interrupt someone when it’s their turn to speak, so I was like, “wtf do I do?”

And it’s not like I’m at my best. I’m at a fucking DV survivor group. I do not have the strength to deal with this in person right now. It’s difficult to accept solidarity from someone who just recited the rallying cry of transphobes trying to legislate me out of existence. I don’t dress like “women.” I dress like me. 

I have a second interview with the same position I applied to a while ago. In my experience it’s usually just a paperwork thing, so I’m cautiously optimistic that it’s not another elimination round. If that’s the case, I’ll be resuming private practice at my own expense the moment I can afford it, because the public options have proven to be garbage for a poly kinky queer trans chick.

There was one nice thing that come out of this. One of the other participants pulled me aside after and disclosed their poly & kinky status. I was like “hey that’s awesome, I’m [insert my clusterfuck of intersections].” Because I lost basically all of the kinky friends I made as a result of my 100% No Contact for my ex, it felt nice to make a new kinky friend.




  1. Geo says

    I remember trying to get help when I was being battered by my ex. The only group where I got support was Al Anon. At Al Anon I met other men who were being abused by their female partners. My favorite unhelpful reaction from an organization where I tried to get help was “Wait, she battered you?”. Being male, I found no help from established domestic violence organizations in the area where I lived at the time.

    I didn’t get married to be attacked every night, so I eventually just left. My ex had problems with alcohol, which is why I eventually found Al Anon. I am happy to say my life is much better now. Sorry to hear about your problems, I am glad things are improving for you as well.

  2. angel says

    I am sorry you had this experience, both with the abuse and with the services you sought out. I just finished a course that required a research paper on female perpetuated partner violence and I was absolutely shocked to discover that same sex relationships report a HIGHER incident of intimate partner violence than opposite sex relationships. So much for the theory that all violence among intimate partners is due to gender roles and institutionalized patriarchy/misogyny . xxooo be safe