The domestic violence movement has largely focused on battered women. Yet, abuse occurs in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) people, too. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, two of every five gay and bisexual men experience abusive partner relationships – rates that are at least equal to heterosexual women who endure domestic violence. The Coalition also found that 50% of lesbian women have experienced or will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. In a study of male same sex relationships, only 26% of men called the police for assistance after experiencing near-lethal violence. And fewer than 5% of LGBTQ+ survivors of intimate partner violence sought orders of protection.
Violence in LGBTQ relationships is largely underreported, unacknowledged or reported as something other than domestic violence — often due fear of homophobia, transphobia or sexism. When substance use co-occurs with domestic violence, LGBTQ+ persons are even less likely to contact the police or an emergency shelter. Prior experiences of physical or psychological trauma (such as bullying and hate crimes) is another factor separating LGBTQ+ victims from help.
Unfortunately, violence is not the only danger in abusive relationships. Threats to “out” or reveal a partner’s sexual orientation/gender identity can be used as a tool of abuse. Transgender people are the most likely to experience abuse within intimate partner relationships. Specific forms of trans abuse can include: using offensive pronouns such as “it” to refer to the transgender partner; ridiculing the transgender partner’s body and/or appearance; telling the transgender partner that he or she is not a real man or woman; and ridiculing the transgender partner’s identity. Overall, 45% of all LGBTQ+ victims, 45% do not report violence to police because they believe it will not help them. For those who do call for help, many will be denied assistance and domestic violence services as a result of homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia.
If you know a substance user who is experiencing abuse in an LGBTQ+ relationship, call L.A. CADA at (562) 906-2676. We have LGBTQ+- affirming and LGBTQ+-sensitive programs that can help.
Learn more about: Violence in the LGBTQ Community