QUEER VOICES
03/21/2014 11:45 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

LGBT Victim Of Domestic Violence: 'I Felt Trapped' Because I Was In The Closet

It's been nearly 20 years since Cindy Abel escaped her relationship with an abusive girlfriend, but the memory still cuts deep.

The verbal assaults hurt, as did her girlfriend's insistence that getting upset by them meant Abel had no sense of humor. It became even worse when things turned physical. During one argument, Abel's girlfriend "came over, grabbed me by the shoulders, slammed me up against the doorjamb," she told HuffPost Live's Alex Berg.

But perhaps the worst of it was how helpless Abel felt. She was a closeted lesbian, and asking for help would have meant addressing the secret of her sexuality.

"I felt trapped. There was no one else I knew who was gay, and I didn't even use that terminology at the time," she said. "I thought, This is the only person ... and if I break up this relationship, I'm not going to know anybody who is like me."

When Abel did eventually find the strength to look for help, she had to search beyond programs for victims of domestic violence because she didn't know of any that would accept her.

"This was almost 20 years ago, and the very few [domestic abuse programs] that were there were very much heterosexual, for women, and I didn't feel comfortable coming out in that type of environment. And I certainly didn't even know of any LGBT group," she said.

See the full HuffPost Live conversation about violence in same-sex relationships below.

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