Domestic violence happens in all different types of relationships and that includes the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community.
It is estimated that between 25 and 33 percent of LGBT relationships include abuse, a rate equal to that of heterosexual relationships. There is a misconception that if violence occurs in an LGBT relationship it is mutual fighting and it does not reflect the same power and control issues seen in heterosexual relationships, however the abuse is similar in many ways.
It can be extremely difficult for LGBT victims to admit that domestic violence is an issue in their relationship. Even once they have, they are often at a loss of to where to turn for help. They may be fearful of receiving a homophobic response from those they seek assistance from. If you or someone you know is being abused you can contact the DASAS crisis line to speak with an advocate anytime. The call is free and you do not need to give your name.
Unique issues faced by LGBT victims/survivors
- Utilizing existing services (such as a shelter, support groups or calling a crisis line) either means 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 LGBT victims come out to service providers who are not discreet with the information, it could lead to the victim losing their home, job, custody of children, etc.
- Telling heterosexuals about abuse in a LGBT relationship can reinforce the myth many believe that LGBT are “abnormal.” This can further cause the victim to feel isolated and unsupported.
- The LGBT community is often not supportive of victims of abuse because many want to maintain the myth that there are no problems (such as child abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc.) in LGBT relationships.
- LGBT victims may not know others outside their LGBT community, meaning that leaving the abuser could result in total isolation.
- LGBT victims are usually not as tied financially to their partner, which can be a benefit if they decide to end the relationship. However, if their lives are financially intertwined, such as each paying the rent or mortgage and having “built a home together”, they have no legal process to assist in making sure assets are evenly divided, a process which exists for their married, heterosexual counterparts.
- The LGBT 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.