The bloody rainbow: The creation of the second closet – Lesbian Blackwomxn, intimate partner violence and third parties’ responses

Authors Lethabo Mailula and Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane

ISSN: 1996-2088
Affiliations: LLB LLM (University of Pretoria); LLB (University of Stellenbosch) LLM (University of California).
Source: Acta Juridica, 2020, p. 267 – 286


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an epidemic that is often viewed through the singular lens of heterosexuality. The discourse about IPV and mechanisms to combat IPV are heteronormative in nature and erase the experiences of queer persons in relationships and the manner in which violence manifests in these relationships. This paper explores third party responses to IPV in lesbian relationships. This violence is informed by heteropatriarchial attitudes and is re-enacted by third party responders, which has the effect of silencing survivors of same-sex IPV. The conceptualisation of the second closet emerges from this phenomenon.

For lesbians, keeping secrets about abuse in our relationships is also linked to homophobia and heterosexism: it is still risky for some of us to be out, and it can be dangerous to reveal abuse within an already oppressive context.