Domestic abuse doesn’t discriminate.
Domestic Abuse is a serious issue among lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and transgender people. Overall, 25 to 30% of relationships are abusive, regardless of gender or sexuality.
How is lesbian and gay battering similar to battering in heterosexual relationships?
- No one deserves to be abused.
- Abuse can be physical, sexual, or verbal behavior to coerce or humiliate, emotionally or psychologically.
- Abuse often occurs in a cyclic fashion.
- Abuse can be lethal.
- The purpose of the abuse is to maintain control and power over one’s partner.
- Routine intimidation is used to gain that power.
- The abused person feels isolated, afraid and usually convinced that they are at fault.
- The incidence rate in relationships for gay/lesbian battering and heterosexual battering is approximately the same; 25% to 30% of relationships are abusive.
How is lesbian and gay battering different from heterosexual battering?
- Lesbians and gay men who are abused have much more difficulty finding appropriate support.
- The myth that lesbian/gay domestic violence is “mutual” prevails.
- Using services such as the legal system or shelters is tantamount to “coming out,” and thus entails a major life decision.
- Support services often minimize lesbian/gay domestic violence. Service providers may be ignorant of the severity of lesbian/gay battering.
- Lesbian and gay survivors may know few or no other gays; leaving the abuser could mean total isolation from every community.
- The gay/lesbian community is small, and it is likely that everyone the survivor knows will soon know about the abuse.
- The batterer can use blackmail to hold the victim in the relationship. Being “outed” at work or to parents is sometimes more threatening than the abuse.
- Service providers like law enforcement officers often feel GBLT abuse may be mutual due to gender and/or size of the abuser/abused.
- If there are children in the relationship, seeking help will be “outed” and mean the survivor will never again see the abuser’s children, since gays/lesbians have no parental rights.
- For gays/lesbians, sympathetic friends may be hard to find. The GLBT community may not be eager to acknowledge weaknesses that the heterosexual world will use to support its homophobic stereotypes.
For training about domestic violence in GLBT relationships, please contact MCEDV.