Domestic Violence in LGBTIQ relationships

Most LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Questioning) relationships are built on love and respect. Some are built on abuse and control. Abuse and control in a relationship is domestic violence.

The police, domestic violence services, the courts, LGBTIQ organisations and other services all report that they are working with individuals who have experienced or are experiencing LGBTIQ domestic violence.

To date, there is limited Australian research that records the level of domestic violence in LGBTIQ relationships. However, a number of overseas studies suggest that the general patterns and levels of domestic violence in LGBTIQ relationships are about the same as in opposite sex relationships. These studies also show that once the violence starts it is likely to get worse.

A great, locally produced resource is the publication Queer without Fear – LGBTI Domestic and Family violence and its Impacts. Click here to view.

Unique Aspects of LGBTIQ Domestic Violence

Domestic violence in LGBTIQ and opposite sex relationships share many similarities, including the types of abuse and the impact on the abused partner. However, there are a number of aspects that are unique to LGBTIQ domestic violence. These include:

‘Outing’ as a method of control

If the abused partner isn’t ‘out’ to their family, friends, and workmates or within their cultural community, the abusive partner may use ’outing’ or the threat of ’outing’ as a method of control.

The abuse becomes associated with sexuality or gender
For some LGBTIQ people, especially those new to LGBTIQ relationships or those having difficulty understanding or accepting their identity, these difficulties become associated with the abuse so that they blame the abuse on being a LGBTIQ person. So they may feel that “I’m experiencing this abuse because I’m gay/lesbian/transgender (or other). If I wasn’t gay/lesbian/transgender (or other) I wouldn’t be experiencing or doing this. I hate being this way.”

Domestic violence isn’t as well understood in the LGBTIQ community
There hasn’t been much information or discussion in the LGBTIQ communities about domestic violence in relationships. Most information on domestic violence relates to opposite sex relationships with the man as the perpetrator. This lack of understanding means that some people may not:

  • believe domestic violence happens in LGBTIQ relationships
  • recognise abuse as domestic violence if it does happen to them and/or
  • know how to respond if they see domestic violence in their friends or family members’ relationships.

Services may not be well developed
Although women can access most general domestic violence services, like refuges, court assistance schemes, and counselling services, these services may have limited experience in working with LGBTIQ domestic violence and therefore, may not offer the most appropriate service. There are currently few specific services that offer assistance or support to gay men.

Members of the LGBTIQ community who are expecting domestic violence may contact the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service for support to access appropriate services.

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16 Days of Activism: During the '16 Days of Activism' campaign, BDVS held a community event to encourage people to stand up against domestic and family violence.