Domestic violence is often an issue kept behind closed doors, particularly within same sex relationships, but 3L Juliana Williamson’s article “Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence in Same-Sex Relationships” brings to the forefront issues that were once locked in the closet.
Inspired by a case study in her Law and Social Justice class and meeting a victim of same sex domestic violence, Williamson sought to bring attention to this LGBTQ issue that does not receive much public attention.
With the social stigmas endured by the LGBTQ community, members of the community are often hesitant to report domestic violence issues in fear of backlash from critics, particularly at a time when the issue of same sex marriage is on the table. Critics of LGBTQ relationships label them as “deviant” or “unstable”, so some members of the LGBTQ community are concerned that by revealing domestic violence exists amongst LGBTQ couples, they are providing more ammunition for opponents to discount the validity of same sex relationships. As a result, many domestic violence incidents within the LGBTQ community remain unreported.
Williamson believes her article gained attention as a response to the recent horrific incident in Willow Glen where a woman killed her same sex spouse’s mother with a machete when the spouse told her she was going to leave.
While conducting research for her article, Williamson interviewed victims of domestic violence, the District Attorney’s Office’s Family Violence Unit, and spoke with a counselor at San Jose State University who is an advocate for the LGBTQ community in San Jose, as well as various domestic violence organizations in the area.
Williamson hopes that her work will garner more attention from the media regarding domestic violence in same sex relationships, so that more people can become informed on the issue. With limited literature and recognition, even experts in the domestic violence field know very little on the particularities of same sex domestic violence and are not trained to work specifically with these victims and abusers. Williamson believes that members of the judicial branch who handle domestic violence cases need to be more informed on the subject, so they can be more sensitive to the needs of same sex victims.
“I have always thought it was crazy that it is seemingly acceptable in our country to treat a group of people as second class citizens. However, I also strongly believe we are living in a moment of change, and in 20 years, we will look back and think it’s crazy that gays and lesbians were unable to get married in our country,” said Williamson.
Prior to attending Santa Clara Law, Williamson attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas and majored in International Studies and Spanish with a minor in Human Rights. Williamson hopes to pursue Family Law after law school and is currently working at a small family law firm in San Jose.
article by Jenny Tsay ’12