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Same-Sex relationships

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Relationships

Intimate partner violence in the LGBT community mirrors the rates of that experienced in heterosexual relationships.  There are differences and similarities. As in opposite-gendered couples, the problem is likely underreported.  Facing a system which is often oppressive and hostile towards lesbians and gay men, those involved in same-gender violence frequently report being afraid of revealing their sexual orientation or the nature of their relationship.

Other ways, domestic violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships is the same as in opposite-gendered relationships:

  • No one deserves to be abused.
  • Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and involve verbal behaviour 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. 

Some ways in which intimate partner violence can be experienced differently in LGBT relationships can be:

In same-sex abuse, there is a pattern of violence or behaviours 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 be in the form of physical or sexual violence or emotional and verbal abuse.  Threats of “outing” someone at work or to family or friends can be a serious form of emotional abuse.

Local resources for intimate partner violence in the LGBT community are often scarce and many traditional domestic violence services lack the training, sensitivity and expertise to adequately recognize and address abusive LGBT relationships.  Someone who is being battered has to overcome homophobia and denial of the issue of abuse. 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. 

It is sometimes assumed that abuse in same-sex relationships must be "mutual." This is rarely an assumption in heterosexual relationships.

For someone who is not “out” using the services of a shelter, attending support groups or calling a crisis line can mean lying about or hiding the gender of the abuser. 

Even someone who is “out” can feel uncomfortable disclosing their identity because of the fear of reinforcing the myth that LGBT relationships are "abnormal." This can further cause the victim to feel isolated and unsupported.