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LGBT Domestic Abuse An Unreported Issue

12 Aug

Statistics show that the vast majority of cases of domestic abuse involve a male abusing a female. A less widely reported statistic is the level of domestic abuse in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The LGBT Foundation quotes a survey which estimates that 1 in 4 LGBT people experience domestic abuse. This figure puts the issue on par with that of abuse against heterosexual women.

But as with heterosexual relationships, many cases of LGBT domestic abuse go widely unreported. One of the main reasons is because an LGBT person experiencing domestic abuse is less likely to tell a health care professional for fear of disclosing their sexual orientation.

Unique Aspects of LGBT Domestic Abuse

In any domestic abuse scenario the abuser will seek to gain power and control through the use of:

  • Emotional bullying
  • Physical violence and threats
  • Social isolation
  • Financial control
  • Sexual abuse

However, in addition to these, there are also forms of abuse which are specific to the LGBT community. In those cases the abuser may also:

  • Question your sexuality by suggesting you are not a “real” lesbian or a “real” man.
  • Reinforce internalised homophobia, biphobia or transphobia by suggesting that being heterosexual is the “correct way to be”.
  • Argue that health care professionals and the authorities will not take you seriously on account of your sexual orientation.
  • Threaten to disclose your sexual orientation to your family, ex-partner, work colleagues or employer.
  • Threaten to use your sexual orientation against you in court when dealing with issues such as deciding the residence or contact with children.
  • Argue that abuse is not possible between two people of the same-sex, or brush it off as “fighting”.

The government defines domestic abuse as “any incident or pattern of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.”

The implementation of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 gives those who are experiencing abuse from a same-sex partner equal rights to those who are in a heterosexual relationship.

If you have experienced domestic abuse you can get advice and support by contacting our helpline on 0300 561 0077. Alternatively Broken Rainbow is an organisation which specialises in offering support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse – their website is www.brokenrainbow.org.uk.

Domestic violence amongst LGBT people
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