Another case of deadly LGBT domestic violence in Mass.

by Peter Cassels

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday August 23, 2010

A Massachusetts murder has once again focused attention on LGBT domestic violence.

A Brockton woman walked into that city's police station on Aug. 9 and allegedly confessed to killing her ex-girlfriend's Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor because the woman allegedly had come between the couple.

Eunice Field, 54, told police she killed Lorraine Wachsman, 62, at Wachsman's Bridgewater condo, according to Assistant District Attorney Thomas Flanagan.

Field left a note for her ex-girlfriend, Renee Williams, in the Brockton apartment they shared stating that she killed Wachsman, a retired school teacher, "for taking away the love of her life", Flanagan said at Field's Aug. 10 arraignment. The prosecutor said Field stabbed Wachsman three or four times in the back and neck with a serrated knife.

Flanagan reported Field was stained with blood when she showed up at the Brockton police station. She showed no emotion, however, when she confessed.

John Darrel, Field's attorney, said his client told police at the beginning of the interview she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that she was supposed to be on medication. Darrel did not say whether Field was taking medication at the time of the stabbing.

A judge ordered Field held without bail pending a Sept. 3 court appearance.

"This is a terrible tragedy and a painful reminder that partner abuse not only affects survivors but also their community of friends, family and loved ones," said Beth Leventhal, executive director of the Network/La Red, a Boston-based organization that seeks to end LGBT domestic violence. "We know that extreme jealousy and possessiveness over one's partner or ex-partner are two of the tell-tale signs of partner abuse."

A death this year in another Massachusetts town also may have a domestic-violence connection.

Annamarie Rintala, 37, was found strangled in the basement of her Granby home March 29.

Police are looking at Rintala's wife, Cara, as a person of interest because she was charged with domestic assault in Oct. 2008 after Annamarie reported that her wife had struck her in the back of the head with a closed fist. Authorities dismissed charges in that case at the victim's request.

Police have yet to make an arrest in connection with Rintala's death.

As EDGE previously reported, a Boston jury last February convicted a woman on two counts of second-degree murder for setting fire to a South Boston apartment building that killed her girlfriend's two young daughters after an argument in April 2008.

Domestic violence, both physical and emotional, remains a major problem among gay and lesbian couples.

The Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project reports one in four gay men experience domestic violence. The rate is even higher among lesbians. One in three likely will experience domestic violence during their lifetimes, the same rate as straight women.

The Network/La Red said many lesbians have the misconception their space is safe.

"We know from the recent cases that women physically and emotionally abuse their female partners, as well as their partners that may identify as transgender," Kaitlin Nichols, director of organizing and education, told EDGE in e-mail. "We also know that women have been seriously injured or killed by their female partners, or lost everything and become homeless due to domestic violence. The myth of women's communities as safe communities has prevented many women from reaching out for support. If they have shared what is happening, they are met with disbelief from their community."

Peter Cassels is a recipient of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association's Excellence in Journalism award. His e-mail address is [email protected].