Yolo Akili Robinson Speaks About LGBT Violence

Photo by Hope Patti

Yolo Akili Robinson was invited on Monday by the College's Women's Center and Ramapo Pride to give a presentation in Friends Hall on various forms of violence that are less known to the public and which occur within LGBTQ communities.

Robinson led an informative, interactive and informal presentation, noting as he began the presentation that he did not want to preach and “teach down” to the students. He started off the presentation by stating that there are “no bad people out there who commit the acts of intimate emotional, physical and sexual violence. There are only us.”

He added that people tend to mistake that “there are just a few bad people, and that if we fix those people, that everything will be right. Everything will be perfect.” However, Robinson said, “It’s a discourse filled with denial.”

Robinson shared how he identifies his sexuality and gave a brief description of the unfortunate experience he went through, so the audience could better understand him: “I come to you this evening, as a black gay man, who has been a survivor of rape by a man.” Robinson then emphasized that he was not just going to share statistics. He then told the students that he came “to hold you all accountable.”

Robinson then went on to ask the students questions, such as “Did you dismiss your best friend screaming at a girlfriend constantly and cursing at her?” “Did you assume an apology for punching a partner was enough?” and “Have you ever participated in any acts of violence or abusive acts?”

Robinson moved on to define “What actually is violence?” He introduced a pie chart labeled “Power and Control Wheel for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Relationships,” with each segment representing a different type of violence. He asked students to volunteer to read each segment of the pie, making the atmosphere more lively and interactive. There were eight different types of violence introduced in this chart, including “Using Coercion and Threats,” “Using Intimidation,” “Using Emotional Abuse,” “Using Isolation,” “Denying, Minimizing and Blaming,” “Using Children,” “Using Privilege” and “Using Economic Abuse.”

Robinson stated that the uses of coercion and threats are “very common things in terms of emotional violence.”

Several points upon the pie chart highlighted this fact – examples included “making and/or carrying out threats to do something to harm you” and “threatening to leave or commit suicide.” Regarding the use of intimidations, Robinson informed students “You don’t have to hit someone to be abusive.” He said that one could punch someone against the wall and say, “I’m so strong. I can hit the wall, I can hit you.”

Intervention in a situation, especially one where intimidation is present, must always be done with caution. According to Robinson, “It’s always important to think of the person victimized first,” because oftentimes, the victim can be put in yet more danger.

Moving on, Robinson noted that when violated by a partner using isolation, "You may not feel like you have a choice." Isolation may include “controlling what you do and who you see,” according to examples from the “Power and Control Wheel."

Near the end of his presentation, Robinson presented more key advice to the audience, with a few of the points offered being labeled, “Get To Your Trauma Before Your Trauma Gets To You,” “Never Not Say Or Do Anything” and “Know the Resources Around You & Be Able to Refer To Them.”

After the end of the presentation, junior Colin Brence commented, “I think the event gave me a better education of what we can do in our community to help educate people. Also, educate about resources available at disposal to help victims of abuse, and also sometimes abusers themselves, because often abusers themselves are victims. And also give people a place to express their emotions.”

Robinson advised the students who did not attend the event and are in trouble “to come to the Women’s Center and get to some of the resources out there and just start a conversation with the folks and just think about how you can ensure that the community is safer.”