After years of dating Maureen, Jennifer Marcella grew increasingly uncomfortable with the relationship dynamic. The relationship started well, and the women quickly became inseparable – but after living together for a few months, Jennifer only encountered the “Friday night side” of Maureen, a side that was frequently drunk and abusive. Jennifer would discover empty liquor bottles strewn over the home.
Jennifer asked Maureen to leave, but even after multiple attempts to break up, Maureen visited Jennifer’s home agitated. Unable to be calmed down, Maureen followed Jennifer into the home that evening and shot her.
Headlines read “Lesbian Cop shot by her Lover” and “Lesbian Love Triangle Ends with Cop Shot,” and Jennifer instantly understood that some people were dismissing her situation as veritable domestic violence, reserving that description for violence in a heterosexual relationship. To make things worse, Jennifer experienced a lack of support from her employer – the police force. The police report failed to mention domestic violence and Maureen was charged with the reckless discharge of a firearm despite being the one shot at herself. They likened her domestic violence to the same as a gun discharge, erasing Jennifer as a victim. Because Jennifer didn’t look like a “feminine, vulnerable, victim” she became a victim not just of domestic violence but also of discrimination.
“Although I despised the lack of efforts from law enforcement, I didn’t give up on the efforts of our criminal justice system,” Jennifer said. “Instead I came back stronger and with a mission to increase awareness and improve police recognition and response to IPV in same-sex relationships. Police officers need to be aware of the family dynamic differences in same-sex couples in order to identify intimate partner violence. It is only when the criminal justice system understands the victimology and marginalities of same-sex intimate partner violence can this cultural shift can begin.”