A powerful film, called Blindsided, recently had its Boston debut at The National Association of Social Workers Film Series. It follows the story of a woman named Patricia, who was diagnosed with Usher syndrome as a child, a rare condition that leads to blindness and deafness. Despite her vision and hearing worsening throughout her life, Patricia found solace, joy in music and painting.
But despite Patricia's remarkably positive approach to life, her story took a dark turn when she fell in love with a woman named Karen and the two moved in together. Karen began abusing Patricia, both verbally and physically. The two lived together for 17 years before Patricia finally moved out, having fallen in love with another woman named Bella. They married but shortly after the honeymoon, Bella became abusive, too. Five years later, Patricia left Bella on ground of spousal abuse. Bella eventually pled guilty to felony assault on a disabled person and was sentenced to two years of probation.
"When I started filming her, I didn't know about any of the domestic abuse," said Olivieri. Her goal was to film a disabled person who was trying to paint and make a record, and "then it just turned into something." Leventhal, who runs the only shelter for LGBTQ domestic abuse in Massachusetts, said "it's hard for people to recognize partner abuse." However, it's even harder in LGBTQ relationships.
According to the CDC, the percentage of people who have experienced sexual abuse is nearly doubled with gay men (40%) compared to straight men (21%). The percentages for women are higher than with men, however there is less of a disparity between lesbian women(46%) and straight women (43%). Leventhal said that "people are targeted because of their sexual orientation, and an easy place to get somebody who is vulnerable is around their sexuality."