Personal Essays Overcoming Intimate Partner Violence At The Hands Of My Girlfriend: A Trans Man’s Account

Overcoming Intimate Partner Violence At The Hands Of My Girlfriend: A Trans Man’s Account

We trans people are prone to intimate partner violence in our relationships as we are vulnerable due to lack of support, acceptance, and love.

Trigger warning: Rape

‘Intimate partner violence’ is something I had never heard of but experienced without even realising it. The other day, when I was sharing stories of my past relationship with my counsellor, this phrase popped up for the first time. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is domestic violence by a current or former spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner. IPV can take a number of forms, including physicalverbalemotionaleconomic and sexual abuse. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines IPV as “… any behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors.”

I am a middle class trans man. Most of us do not even own concepts like abuse. All we know is only silence. My first memory of being abused was when I was lying on a bed and a dupatta came out of nowhere. She tied my hands with it and had sex with me. After that I told her I wanted to go home as I had never felt that uncomfortable before, she suddenly started crying. I forgot my own feelings and felt rather guilty about what I had said. I never realised it was a form of emotional manipulation.

Also read: How To Spot Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Your Relationship

I had been very lonely in life and had never found someone who understood me and my gender identity and respected it. The slightest displays of affection from someone like her broke my walls and made me vulnerable. Every time we had sex which was non-consensual, my thoughts ranged from thinking that if I didn’t do it she would leave me or that at least someone was appreciating my body. Now my concept of consent is messed up. I don’t even know what consent is and what it is not.

Every time we had sex which was non consensual the only thought I had was either if I don’t do it she would leave me or at least someone is appreciating my body.

After my therapy session, while going home all I could do was Google what exactly intimate partner violence meant. Only when I saw my story written all over the internet I understood that some abuse doesn’t leave physical scars. I understood the ways I had been manipulated by tears and controlled by someone else’s behaviour. Every aspect of my life from my career to my clothes to a simple haircut – everything was controlled by someone else.

I had even been manipulated and controlled regarding whom I could talk to and whom I could not. I had no friends of my own and I could not talk to anyone without her being involved in it. She checked my phone at regular intervals. It was okay for her to flirt around as it was a part of her culture but if I even talked to someone she would get extremely abusive and name it ‘jealousy’. I felt suffocated in the relationship and started questioning  who I was and what I had become.

I was broken to my core. After our break up I felt as though some weight had been lifted off. I can now talk to whomever I want, be who I want to be and just do what I want to do without someone judging my actions. She never liked the way I looked. She always said I looked ugly after I started transitioning and started looking like a cis man. It made me felt worthless and ugly. She always told me I will never find someone who would love me for who I was. But after the break up there have been multiple women coming up to me and admitting they have a crush on me and honestly that has boosted my confidence.

She never liked the way I looked. She always said I looked ugly after I started transitioning and started looking like a cis man.

I am a domestic violence survivor and it was so intense that I had to lodge a police complaint against my father to stop it. There was physical, emotional, and financial violence involved. I was weary as a person and my self-respect was very low. I had always been looking for validation from my father and after being in relationship I was looking for a validation from her. It is so easy for former abuse victims or survivors to enter into another cycle of abuse without even realising it. That’s what happened with me.

I was looking for love which has been missing in my life for an exceptionally long time. I remember an incident from a year ago when I was trying to break up with her as I was too suffocated in the relationship. I remember that it was in front of our mutual friend. He kept trying to force me to not break up with her. After he left, she kept crying and started hitting herself. Our maid came running and asked me what I did to her. I was so scared after that incident that I was too afraid to even mention breaking up again. I felt that I had no way to escape.   

People with power and language will always get away with whatever they do and they manipulate in such a way that it becomes as though the victim was actually the abuser. I remember once I had caught her cheating and she even blamed that on me. I remember her mentally harassing me, saying she was going to lodge a legal complaint but never did – she only used the threat to harass me. It was all power play.

Also read: This Is What Intimate Partner Rape Looks Like

I am going for therapy every now and then to make sure that I don’t end up in another cycle of abuse. We trans people are very vulnerable due to the lack of support, lack of love, lack of acceptance, and much more. In midst of all this, we at times end up in toxic relationships and cycles of abuse. Building confidence and self sufficient behaviour are some of my most important aspects of life. I do not blame anyone for anything. I want to be so secure and sane in my life that I know when it is an act of abuse or consent and when it is not.

Featured Image Source: Rooted In Rights


  1. Brandt says:

    Much love and solidarity. I’m so glad you got out and are in therapy. I’m trans too, and I’m also in a mental health support group on Facebook. Please feel free to get in touch any time you want someone to talk to or let me know if you’d like to be added.

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