LGBT & Domestic Violence
The signs and symptoms of abuse within LGBT relationships are similar to those seen in heterosexual relationships. They may include physical violence, sexual assault, financial abuse and emotional and/or psychological abuse. However, there are several aspects of LGBT relationships that need to be understood because domestic violence is often experienced differently by same gender partners. Read more about the additional barriers individuals in the LGBT Community face relating to domestic violence.
LifeWire's staff has the sensitivity and expertise to recognize and address domestic violence issues in the LGBT community. If you would like to speak with someone about domestic violence, confidential help is available 24 hours a day by calling our crisis line at 425-746-1940.
Power & Control
In an abusive or violent relationship, power and control are repeatedly misused against a partner. Below are examples of power and control tactics that may be used in an LGBT relationship.
Source: National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
Myths and Facts
Battering/abuse does not exist in lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities; only men abuse women.
Fact: Domestic violence does exist among lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and in sexual minority communities; it is not a problem limited to heterosexual relationships. The extent and severity of abuse in these communities is becoming increasingly evident. A 10-year, 10-city study published in 1998 by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects found that 25-33% of same-sex relationships involve abuse. Despite fear and community denial, more and more bisexual, trans, lesbian and gay folks are speaking about battering and abuse in their relationships.
Domestic violence only affects certain groups of queer people.
Fact: Violence and abuse are found in all communities. No group, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, gender identity, age, ability, education, politics, religion or lifestyle, is free from domestic violence. Being abusive is not determined by size, strength, or economic status. Lesbian, bisexual and trans people who batter or abuse can be friendly, physically unintimidating, sociable and charming. People who are battered or abused can be strong, capable and dynamic.
In same-sex relationships, the problem is really fighting or "mutual battering," not domestic violence.
Fact: Abuse is about a pattern of controlling behaviors. Although either or both partners may use violence, batterers do so to increase their control over their partners. Survivors have used violence for many reasons. Some include: self-defense, desperation, anger, and to try to stop the abuse. When survivors use violence, the results are complicated. They may be arrested, disbelieved by friends about the abuse, or quilted into staying longer in the relationship to "make up for" our actions. Using violence to survive is a sign that something is wrong -- making a plan to get support is important.
If the abuse becomes too bad, people can leave an abusive or violent partner easily.
Fact: Battering relationships are rarely only violent or abusive. They also utilize the isolation and targeting that occurs in the larger, straight community to cut off survivors' access to support, safe shelter, or community. Also, love, caring and remorse are often part of the pattern of abuse. This can leave a survivor feeling confused and ambivalent about what they are experiencing. Emotional or economic dependency, shame, or isolation can make leaving seem impossible.
Factors such as substance abuse, stress, childhood violence or provocation really cause battering and abuse.
Fact: A batterer chooses to be violent and is responsible for their behavior. Individuals and communities often deny this responsibility, by coming up with excuses. Alcohol and drug use may become part of the dynamics of abuse, but they do not cause domestic violence. Stopping substance abuse does not guarantee that the battering will stop. Most sexual minority people experience some kind of stress and many have experienced childhood violence, but there is no direct cause and effect relationship between these factors and domestic violence. There is no justification for domestic violence.
Source: Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse
Immigration Equality is a national organization that advocates for equality under the immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and HIV-positive individuals.
40 Exchange Place, 17th Floor
New York NY, 10005
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) addresses the pervasive problem of violence committed against and within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and HIV-affected communities.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)
240 West 35th Street, Suite 200
New York NY, 10001