Domestic violence (DV) does not discriminate on which communities it impacts, and the LBGTQ community is no exception to that. In fact, LGBTQ individuals can face a higher risk of DV. Per the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), DV can occur in LGBTQ relationships at rates equal to or even greater to that of cisgender/heterosexual relationships.
While the root cause of DV in relationships–power and control–is still the same as with cisgender heterosexual relationships, there are abuses that are unique within the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ DV survivors can face abuses such as:
- Threats of “outing”, wherein the batterer will threaten to disclose the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity in an effort to isolate the victim from friends or family, get their children taken away, or get them fired from their job;
- Mocking or questioning the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity by saying they aren’t “passing”, referring to a transgender victim as “it”, claiming that they aren’t “femme”/”butch” enough, or that they aren’t a “real” lesbian/gay/bisexual individual;
- Minimizing abuses by saying that women can’t abuse women/men can’t abuse men; and
- By reinforcing the victim’s internalized homophobia/biphobia/transphobia.
A key risk factor for LGBTQ survivors of DV is that there can be several barriers between them and the safety and support needed to leave an abusive relationship. Besides their batterer telling them that no one will believe them because they are LGBTQ, or the victim having further fear of “outing”, survivors can face bias, exclusion, and misconceptions regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity. Homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, a lack of appropriate training for service providers, and societal belief that abuse doesn’t occur in LGBTQ relationships are just some of the problems a survivor can come up against. Past negative experiences in seeking safety and support options can lead a survivor to having little to no confidence in the legal system or community resources, and therefore less likely to report abuse.
Regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, all domestic violence survivors should have the ability to safely access support to move forward in their lives, free from abuse. If you or someone you love is an LGBTQ domestic violence victim, and would like to learn more about more the resources available, Arkansas Valley Resource Center Staff as available in office or by phone.
415 Colorado Avenue, La Junta, CO 81050
TTY: (719) 384-1938
After Hours Colorado Relay dial 711 or 1-800-659-2656