Domestic abuse against LGBTI+ people
Domestic abuse in the LGBTI+ community is a serious issue. About 25% of LGBTI+ people suffer through violent or threatening relationships with partners or ex-partners. As in opposite-gendered couples, the problem is underreported. Those involved in same-gender abuse are often afraid of revealing their sexual orientation or the nature of their relationship.
There are many parallels between LGBTI+ people’s experience of domestic abuse and that of heterosexual women, including the impact on the abused partner and the types of abuses such as emotional bullying, physical aggression, threats to harm the victim or other loved ones, social isolation, control of finances, extreme jealousy. However, there are a number of aspects that are unique to LGBTI+ domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse tactics specific to LGBTI+ relationships
- Outing’ as a method of control – The abuser may threaten to ‘out’ the victim to friends, family, religious communities, co-workers, and others as a method of control. The abuser may use the close-knit dynamic of the gay and lesbian community and the lack of support for LGBTI+ people outside the community to further pressure the victim into compliance.
- Abuse associated with sexual orientation or gender identity – For many people, their sexual orientation or gender identity becomes associated with the abuse so that they blame the abuse on being LGBTI+. For example,
- They may feel that they are experiencing this abuse because they are LGBTI+ or that if they weren’t LGBTI+ that they wouldn’t be experiencing it. This can therefore fuel feelings of internalised homo/bi/transphobia.
- Their partner may not accept their bisexuality and say that it is a phase or not relevant if they are dating someone of the opposite sex.
- Their partner uses incorrect pronouns and say they should be grateful for the relationship, even if there is abuse.
- Domestic abuse isn’t well recognised in the LGBTI+ community – There hasn’t been much information or discussion in the LGBTI+ communities about domestic abuse. Most information on domestic abuse relates to experiences of heterosexual women. This lack of understanding means that some people may not:
- Believe it happens in LGBTI+ relationships.
- Recognise their experience as domestic abuse if it does happen to them.
- Know how to respond if they see domestic abuse being experienced by their friends.
- Confidentiality and isolation within the LGBTI+ communities – LGBTI+ communities are often hidden and can rely on friends and relationships as support within the local community; this is often compounded when living in smaller towns and rural areas and can make it difficult for the abused partner to seek help. They may feel ashamed about the abuse, or their partner may have tried to turn others in the community against them. An abusive partner may isolate their partner from contact with the LGBTI+ community by preventing them reading any LGBTI+ papers/magazines etc or attending LGBTI+ venues or events and preventing them seeing friends from within the community. This can be especially true for people in their first same-sex relationship who may not have had much contact with the LGBTI+ community before the relationship began.
Anyone who is experiencing abuse from a current or former intimate partner can call the 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900. You can also use our Instant Message Support Service.
We are also here to support non-binary people and gay and bisexual men suffering intimate partner abuse.
Men subjected to intimate partner abuse can also contact:
General support is available from specialist LGBTI+ organisations including:
For details on specialist domestic and sexual abuse support services across Ireland visit www.stillhere.ie.