In recent years, domestic violence has been declared a threat to public health. But all often, the LGBT community is left out of discussions on domestic abuse.  

What is Domestic Violence?

The most obvious instances of domestic violence are physical violence, like hitting, kicking, punching, slapping, or pushing a partner. Psychological abuse, such as having a controlling partner, is also a form of domestic violence.

In addition to these, people in the LGBT community face additional types of mental abuse, like:

  • Someone’s partner threatening to out them.
  • Someone’s partner insisting they get a particular type of surgery.
  • Someone’s partner threatening to take the couple’s child away.

Rates of Domestic Violence in Same-Sex Couples

It’s estimated that:

  • Between 25 and 33% of people in same-sex relationships experience domestic violence at some point in their life.
  • 44% of lesbian women and 61% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 35% of heterosexual women.
  • 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, in comparison to 29% of heterosexual men.
  • In 2012, fewer than 5% of LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence sought orders of protection.

Despite the fact that domestic violence occurs at similar rates for heterosexual couples and same-sex couples, victims of same-sex relationships are far less likely to report the abuse.  

Why There’s a Large Discrepancy in Reported Numbers

Victims think it will hurt perceptions of the LGBT community.

In reality, if someone is abusive, it’s because they’re an abusive person, not because they’re gay or trans. However, victims in a homosexual relationship often don’t want to come forward because they think it will hurt their community and give others who are already against the LGBT community one more reason to think homosexual relationships are unstable.

Victims don’t want to out themselves.

If a victim is not out to friends and family, the idea of having their identity on a public record is often enough to keep them from coming forward.

Shelters discriminate against the LGBT community.

Same-sex partners don’t always have access to the same resources as heterosexual partners. While services for lesbian women has increased over the years, resources for abused gay men are practically nonexistent.