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Information / Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Domestic Abuse

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Domestic Abuse

In many ways, domestic violence in lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered relationships is the same as in opposite-gendered (e.g., heterosexually-paired) relationships:

  • No one deserves to be abused.
  • Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal. The behavior is used to coerce, threaten or humiliate.
  • Abuse often occurs in a cyclical fashion.
  • Abuse often is most dangerous when one partner in a relationship seeks to leave.
  • 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.
  • A pattern of violence or behaviors exists where one seeks to control the thoughts, beliefs, or conduct of one's 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.

Several important aspects of GLBT relationships mean domestic violence is often experienced differently.

  • Emotional abuse for someone who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual may be to out them at work or to family or friends, endangering their lives and livelihoods.
  • 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.
  • Lesbians, bisexuals and gay men who have been abused have much more difficulty in finding sources of support than those who have been abused in heterosexual relationships.
  • There is a myth that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered battering is mutual. It is not.
  • Utilizing existing services, such as a shelter, attending support groups or calling a crisis line, can mean 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.
  • 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.
  • The GLBT 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.

For more information visit Rainbow Domestic Violence or LAMBDA.