Impact on LGBT Victims
Domestic violence happens in all different types of relationships and that also 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 that it does not reflect the same power and control issues as seen in heterosexual relationships, however the abuse is in many ways similar.
Many LGBT victims do not identify what is happening to them as abuse because they don’t understand what is happening; therefore they don’t know where to turn for help. If you or someone you know is being abused you can contact New Hampshire’s statewide crisis and support lines to speak with an advocate anytime day or night. The call is free and you do not need to give your name.
Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-866-644-3574
Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-277-5570
Unique issues faced by LGBT victims/survivors
While many aspects of LGBT domestic violence are similar to those experienced by heterosexual victims, it is not in all ways identical. Perpetrators often attempt highly specific forms of abuse based on identity and community dynamics, including:
- "Outing" or threatening to out a partner's sexual orientation or gender identity to family, friends, employers, or in other situations where this may pose a threat.
- Telling the survivor that abusive behavior is a normal part of LGBT relationships, or that it cannot be domestic violence because it is occurring between LGBT individuals.
- Manipulating friends and family supports and generating sympathy and trust in order to cut off these resources to the survivor.
- Portraying the violence as mutual and even consensual, especially if the partner attempts to defend against it, or as an expression of masculinity or some other "desirable" trait.
- Depicting the abuse as part of sado-masochistic (S/M) activity. Domestic violence can exist in S/M relationships. Domestic Violence is not S/M, nor should any non-consensual violent or abusive acts that take place outside of a pre-arranged scene or in violation of pre determined safe words or boundaries be considered part of, or justified as, a normal S/M relationship.
- Interfering with hormones their partner is taking to transition, or forcing their partner to transition.
More Online Resources:
The Network/La Red
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Program
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Communities United Against Violence
The New York Anti-Violence Project
The Survivor Project
Responding to Domestic Violence in LGBTQ Communities
Tools for Attorneys working with LGBT Survivors of Domestic Violence
Gender: The social construction of masculinity and femininity in a specific culture. It involves gender assignment (the gender designation of someone at birth), gender roles (the expectations imposed on someone based on their gender), gender attribution (how others perceive someone’s gender), and gender identity (how someone defines their own gender).
Gender Assignment: The biological assignment of “male” or “female” based upon the genitalia that an individual possesses at birth. The biological sexes are commonly seen as mutually exclusive, and it is often believed that a person’s sex should dictate their gender expression (those born with “male” genitalia should behave in a masculine way and those born with “female” genitalia should behave in a feminine way). However, many individuals are born with sexual characteristics that cannot be categorized as wholly “male” or “female.” The commonality of intersex births challenges the belief that there are only two categories of sex and they are mutually exclusive, and that individuals are innately programmed to behave in a manner dictated by the genitalia they possess at birth.
Gender Expression: How one chooses to express one’s gender identity.
Gender Identity: A person's internal sense or feeling of being masculine or feminine. Gender expression relates to how a person presents his or her sense of gender to the larger society. Gender identity may or may not be the same as the biological sex of the person.
Intersex: A person who is born with “sex chromosomes,” external genitalia, or an internal reproductive system that is not considered “standard” for either male or female (preferred term to “hermaphrodite”). About one in 2,000 children, or five children per day in the United States, are born visibly intersex.
Outing: Public disclosure of another person's sexual orientation or gender identity without the person's knowledge or permission. It can be dangerous.
Queer: A once exclusively derogatory term that some GLBT people, especially GLBT youth, have reclaimed as an inclusive and positive way to describe themselves and their community.
Questioning: People who do not yet know their sexual orientation or gender identity, and may be at a period in their life when they are exploring who they are.
Sexual Orientation: The desire for intimate emotional and sexual relationships with people of the same gender (lesbians and gay men), another gender (heterosexuals), or more than one gender (bisexuals).
Transgender: A person who identifies more strongly with the other gender than the one they have been assigned. Women who feel like men or men who feel like women are transgender. Transgender people may identify as queer, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual or asexual. Some transgender people may categorize themselves as transsexuals, cross-dressers, transvestites, androgynies, gender queer, people who live cross-gender, drag kings, and drag queens.