Partner battering and abuse in Queer relationships:
Domestic violence in the GLBT community is a serious issue.
The rates of domestic violence in same-gender relationships is roughly
the same as domestic violence against heterosexual women (25%). As
in opposite-gendered couples, the problem is likely underreported.
Facing a system which is often oppressive and hostile towards queers, those
involved in same-gender battering frequently report being afraid of revealing
their sexual orientation or the nature of their relationship. Others who
do not identify as GLBT may not feel that their relationship fits the definition
but may still be in an abusive and dangerous relationship.
In many ways, domestic violence in lesbian, bisexual
and gay relationships is the same as in opposite-gendered (e.g., heterosexually-paired)
Several important aspects of lesbian, bisexual, and
gay relationships mean domestic violence is often experienced differently:
No one deserves to be abused.
Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological,
and involve verbal behavior used to coerce, threaten or humiliate.
Abuse often occurs in a cyclical fashion.
The purpose of the abuse is to maintain control and power
over one's partner.
The abused partner feels alone, isolated and afraid, and
is usually convinced that the abuse is somehow her or his fault, or could
have been avoided if she or he knew what to do.
In same-sex abuse, a pattern of violence or behaviors
exists where one seeks to control the thoughts, beliefs, or conduct of
their intimate partner, or to punish their partner for resisting their
control. This may been seen as physical or sexual violence, or emotional
and verbal abuse. An additional form of emotional abuse for someone
who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual may be to “out” them at work or to family
For more, click here.
Local resources for domestic violence in the GLBT community
are often scarce and many traditional domestic violence services lack the
training, sensitivity, and expertise to adequately recognize and address
abusive GLBT relationships. A Queer individual
who is being battered must overcome homophobia and denial of the issue
of battering. Lesbians, bisexuals and gay men who have been abused have
much more difficulty in finding sources of support than heterosexual women
who are battered by their male partners.
Here are more ways same-gender domestic violence is unique:
It is frequently incorrectly assumed that lesbian, bi and
gay abuse must be "mutual." It is not often seen as being mutual
in heterosexual battering.
Utilizing existing services (such as a shelter, attending
support groups or calling a crisis line) either means lying or hiding the
gender of the batterer to be perceived (and thus accepted) as a heterosexual.
Or it can mean "coming out", which is a major life decision. If lesbians,
bi's and gays come out to service providers who are not discreet with this
information, it could lead to the victim losing their home, job, custody
of children, etc. This may also precipitate local and/or statewide laws
to affect some of these changes, depending on the area.
Telling heterosexuals about battering in a lesbian, bi or
gay relationship can reinforce the myth many believe that lesbian, bi and
gay relationships are "abnormal." This can further cause the victim to
feel isolated and unsupported.
The lesbian, bi and gay community is often not supportive
of victims of battering because many want to maintain the myth that there
are no problems (such as child abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc.)
in lesbian, bi and gay relationships.
Receiving support services to help one escape a battering
relationship is more difficult when there are also oppressions faced. Battered
lesbians and female bisexuals automatically encounter sexism and homophobia,
and gay and bisexual men encounter homophobia. Lesbian or gay people of
color who are battered also face racism. These forms of social oppressions
make it more difficult for these groups to get the support needed (legal,
financial, social, housing, medical, etc.) to escape and live freely from
an abusive relationship.
Lesbian, bi and gay survivors of battering may not know others
who are lesbian, bi or gay, meaning that leaving the abuser could result
in total isolation.
Lesbians, bi's and gays are usually not as tied financially
to their partner, which can be a benefit if they decide to end the relationship.
However, if their lives are financially intertwined, such as each paying
a rent or mortgage and having "built a home together", they have no legal
process to assist in making sure assets are evenly divided, a process which
exists for their married, heterosexual counterparts.
The lesbian, bi and gay community within the area may be
small, and in all likelihood everyone the survivor knows will soon know
of their abuse. Sides will be drawn and support may be difficult to find.
Anonymity is not an option, a characteristic many heterosexual survivors
can draw upon in "starting a new life" for themselves within the same city.
LAMBDA Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP)
PO Box 31321
El Paso, TX 79931-0321