The prevalence of LGBTQ domestic violence
There is a misconception that only straight women can be victims of domestic violence. But LGBTQ domestic violence actually occurs in our relationships at similar or higher rates than in the general population.
Here are a few numbers to consider:
Higher prevalence of LGBTQ domestic violence
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average heterosexual woman has a 35 percent chance of experiencing rape, physical violence or stalking by a partner in her lifetime.
For lesbians, the odds increase to 44 percent, and for bisexuals the rate is 61 percent.
The same research found that 40 percent of gay men and 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21 percent of heterosexual men.
Intimate partner violence experienced by LGBTQ individuals can be equally or more damaging.
Studies also show that gay men and bisexual women are more likely to experience severe physical violence that includes being beaten, burned or choked.
They are also prone to experience psychological violence that are unique to the LGBTQ community.
In particular, LGBTQ abusers may use homophobia and transphobia to their advantage, threatening to out closeted partners to their families or employers as a means of control.
Misconceptions of LGBTQ domestic violence
LGBTQ relationships are just as real as straight relationships and they both carry the same level of pain and difficulty in leaving an abusive partner.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone anywhere, regardless of demographics, but racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia can make victims of abuse feel even more isolated.
LGBT victims of abuse face unique dilemmas in reaching out for help as stereotypes about gender affect how abusive situations are handled by not only bystanders and authorities, but even by the people in the relationship.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence programs says police and service organizations may not take accusations as seriously, assume the abuse is mutual or that more masculine partner is to blame.
In some cases, authorities have put the abuser in the same jail cell or shelter as the victim.
Many find strength in the queer community, but some bisexuals say they face both homophobia and exclusion from the gay world once they speak about the abuse.
These marginalized communities are more likely to experience negative health outcomes, like problems with drugs and alcohol, mental illness and suicide.
Dealing cases of LGBTQ domestic violence
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse says routinely dealing with discrimination in housing, employment and health care makes LGBTQ people more susceptible to anxiety, fear and social isolation.
These make for perfect breeding grounds for abusive situations, which is why activists have pushed legislation like The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
This law, which provides non-discrimination protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity, is up for reauthorization after 2018.
Advocates also want to promote the insertion of sexual orientation and gender identity markers in research studies on domestic violence in order to generate more comprehensive data.
This, in turn, would generate attention or funding to combat this issue in LGBTQ relationships.
If you or someone you know has been affected by domestic violence, you can seek help by calling a helpline or seeking counseling and information from one of the LGBTQ-friendly resources listed below.
• The Anti-Violence Project: serves people who are LGBTQ; Hotline 1-212-714-1141, Bilingual 24/7
• The Network La Red: serves people who are LGBTQ, poly and kink/BDSM; Bilingual. Hotline – Voice: 1-617-742-4911; Toll-Free: 1-800-832-1901; TTY: 1-617-227-4911
• FORGE: serves transgender and gender nonconforming survivors of domestic and sexual violence; provides referrals to local counselors, 1-414-559-2123
• Let’s Talk About It: A Transgender Survivor’s Guide to Accessing Therapy
• National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) 24/7 or Online Counseling
• Love is Respect Hotline (for youth): online chat; 1-866-331-9474 (24/7); TTY: 1-866-331-8453; or Text “loveis” to 22522
• LGBT National Help Center: Youth Hotline 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743); LGBT National Hotline 1-888-843-4564; Sage LGBT Elder Hotline 1-888-234-7243; or Online Chat at http://www.volunteerlogin.org/chat/
• Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline: 1-800-832-1901
• Northwest Network– serves LGBT survivors of abuse; can provide local referrals: 1-206-568-7777