When we talk about domestic violence, the tendency is to focus on heterosexual relationships. This is an important conversation — but it often excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people who experience domestic violence. Domestic violence is not limited to relationships between men and women, and can affect people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. This Pride Month, bringing awareness to this issue can help us ensure that resources and support are available for LGBTQ victims of domestic violence.
Domestic violence in the LGBTQ community occurs at rates that are the same as or even higher than the heterosexual community. According to research, 43.8% of lesbian women, 61.1% of bisexual women, 26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking in their lifetime. In comparison, 35% of heterosexual women and 29% of heterosexual men faced the same type of violence. Importantly, while rape is included in these statistics, sexual violence is a separate issue in the LGBTQ community, as we discussed in a blog post earlier this month.
Some groups within the LGBTQ community are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence. Black LGBTQ people are more likely to experience intimate partner violence than individuals of other races in the LGBTQ community. Transgender individuals are more likely to suffer from threats and intimidation, harassment and police violence in a relationship, as compared to other LGBTQ individuals. In one study, transgender respondents reported rates of physical abuse of 34.6%, as compared to 14% for gay or lesbian individuals.
As with sexual violence, LGBTQ people face barriers to reporting domestic abuse. Discrimination or otherwise ineffective assistance from the police, medical professionals and service providers often make individuals reluctant to seek help from these sources. A study of male same sex relationships found that just 26% of men called the police for help, even after experiencing near-fatal violence. Forty-five percent LGBTQ victims of intimate partner violence do not report the abuse that they experience to the police because they believe that they will not be helped.
There are also some unique ways that abusers may control their victims in LGBTQ relationships that are not present in heterosexual relationships. For example, threatening to “out” a partner’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be used as a form of abuse. It may also be a method of preventing a victim of seeking help.
At Blackburn Center, we are committed to helping all victims of domestic violence and every other type of violence and crime. We believe that each person deserves dignity and respect, and we incorporate those values in the services that we offer.
Every person deserves to life a life free from violence and abuse. If you or someone that you love is an LGBTQ victim of abuse, we are here for you — today and every day. Call our hotline anytime at 1-888-832-2272 or 724-836-1122 to speak to a trained crisis counselor. We offer a range of services, all available free of charge, to victims of violence and abuse. Our services include an emergency shelter, counseling and therapy, medical accompaniment, support groups, legal system support, and civil legal services.