The subject of lesbian domestic violence isn’t something that people often hear a lot about — even though it is surprisingly common.
Domestic violence can take a variety of forms: economic abuse, physical violence, psychological torment and sexual abuse. It’s not unusual for a victim to experience more than one kind of violence at a time from her romantic partner.
Some of the findings may startle the average individual, who may typically not think about a woman being physically aggressive with another woman that she supposedly loves:
- Almost half of lesbians studied have been sexually abused by a romantic partner.
- Many reported being pushed, slapped, bit, hit or even kicked by a partner.
- Some even report that a partner will drive recklessly to purposefully frighten them or cow them into submission.
What complicates the studies on lesbian domestic abuse is that research has been largely limited to lesbians who are white, economically in the middle-class and open to their community about their sexual orientation.
That means that researchers really have no idea what is going on in the households of lesbian couples who don’t fit within those parameters — it could be even worse, given the additional stresses faced by women of color, lesbians who are still “closeted” from their friends, family or co-workers or those who are struggling economically.
In addition, lesbian domestic violence situations may be affected by one partner who is “out” and one who is still keeping her sexuality private. The abuser may try to use that to her advantage — threatening to tell friends and family members about the closeted woman’s sexuality if she leaves or calls the police. Lesbians also may have difficulty seeking help from domestic violence shelters — some will only protect women who are the victims of men, not other women.
These types of challenges can make it difficult for a lesbian to approach the court for a restraining order without professional help. Some women are even afraid that anti-lesbian bigotry will affect their ability to get assistance.
Any domestic violence situation has challenges that shouldn’t be faced alone. An attorney with experience handling domestic violence cases can get you the help you need.