Domestic violence in the same-sex community

Domestic violence isn't about gender -- it's about control.

Yet, people still tend to have a stereotypical "default mindset" about domestic violence -- they automatically tend to think of it as an issue between a male abuser and a female victim.

In reality, it can be far more complicated. One population that has historically been ignored when it comes to the issue of intimate-partner violence is the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community -- even though domestic violence appears as common (or even more commonly) in LGBT relationships as it is in heterosexual ones.

The LGBT community actually has a domestic violence crisis on its hands. Studies have found that over 21 percent of males in same-sex relationships report domestic violence. For females in same-sex relationships, the figures are even worse: over 35 percent report physical violence from their partner.

Among opposite-sex relationships, only a little over 20 percent of women experience domestic abuse. For men, the figure hovers right around 7 percent.

Many experts feel that there are some factors that keep LGBT victims of domestic violence from speaking out and seeking help that are unique to the LGBT community itself.

There's a general myth that violence doesn't happen among same-sex partners because of the default assumptions and stereotypes that exist. Females are perceived of as only victims, never the aggressors. Nobody thinks a healthy male can be victimized. That means LGBT domestic violence doesn't exist in the subconscious thoughts of most people.

There's also a unique fear that LGBT victims have about exposing abuse -- they feel like they are tarnishing the image of the entire community, not just the abuser. LGBT victims may be reluctant to report abuse because they feel a joint responsibility to not provide fodder for anti-LGBT activists that want to portray LGBT people as dangerous or mentally unstable.

In addition, they may not have anywhere to seek refuge or anyone to ask for help. Police officers can fall prey to the same myths and default beliefs that other people have. LGBT victims are often met with a tepid response from law enforcement if they do seek help.

Seek legal help if you're the victim of intimate partner violence -- regardless of your gender or the gender of your partner. An attorney can help you get a temporary or permanent protective order and guide you through the next steps toward freedom.

Source: www.mmgconnect.com, "Domestic Violence And Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Relationships," accessed June 09, 2017

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