Guest author Sarah Rasmussen joins us to discuss LGBTQ+ experiences of inter-partner violence.
There is a common misconception that LGBTQ+ folks experience inter-partner violence (IPV) or domestic violence less frequently than their heterosexual counterparts. This can’t be further from the truth. LGBTQ+ folks experience IPV at similar or higher rates than heterosexual and/or cisgender folks.
A 2015 study by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 54% of transgender folks will experience some form of partner abuse.
- It is estimated that 25-33% of LGBTQ+ folks will experience abuse by a partner.
- 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ youth will experience abuse from a dating partner.
IPV can take many different forms. It can be emotional/physiological, financial, physical, and/or sexual. While it is not uncommon for an abuser to use multiple forms of violence to control their partner, experiencing just one form of violence is still abuse.
Leaving Abusive Situations
There is another common misconception that it is easier for LGBTQ+ folks to leave abusive relationships because they aren’t constrained by traditional heterosexual marriage structures.
This is also untrue.
Leaving an abusive relationship can feel impossible, no matter your sexuality or gender. When someone leaves their abuser, they may also be leaving their home, family, friends, community, pets, children, and financial security. In addition to being isolating, leaving can also be a dangerous time: statistics have shown when someone leaves an abusive relationship they, and the people around them, are at the highest risk of experiencing deadly violence.
Safety Planning Barriers
Forge defines a safety plan as “a set of actions you can take if you stay with the abuser, while preparing to leave the abuser, and/or after you have left.”
Safety planning traditionally relies on moving survivors entirely out of their communities and away from any space connected to their abuser. This is often not possible in the LGBTQ+ community.
Taking a survivor out of their LGBTQ+ community has been shown to further isolate and negatively impact their mental health. For survivors to create new support systems, rebuild their lives, and heal from abuse, they must belong to a community. Because discrimination and –phobias have caused a scarcity of LGBTQ+ safe spaces and a lack of LGBTQ+ competent resources, survivors often have no choice but to stay within their established community.
Other Barriers: Unique LGBTQ+ Experiences of Abuse
Other barriers that make it harder for LGBTQ+ folks to leave violent relationships are a lack of LGBTQ+ competent social services, and negative and uneducated responses from crisis line workers, law enforcement, and service providers in the legal system. Providers and support resources may not be aware of the unique ways that power and control tactics are experienced by LGBTQ+ folks:
Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ communities are so small and interconnected that survivors are more likely to run into their abusers at community events, community spaces, and medical providers. Survivors may be concerned about the community’s reaction if they spoke up about the abuse or left the relationship. At the same time, abusers may use the small community to gain information and keep track of the survivor. Unfortunately, unlike advice frequently given to heterosexual and cisgender folks, it is not realistic to tell LGBTQ+ survivors not to go to the places they could run into their abusers.
Civil Orders of Protection
One way for survivors to protect themselves is through Civil Orders of Protection. A survivor does not need to file criminal charges to receive a protection order. A Civil Order of Protection is available to those experiencing IPV and requires abusers to stay away from survivors, prohibiting abusers from making further contact or causing more harm.
In 2012 less than 5% of LGBTQ+ IPV survivors sought orders of protection.
While the relationship between law enforcement, judicial systems, and the LGBTQ+ community is strained at best, The National LGBT Bar Association makes it clear that neither the courts nor police can discriminate against victims and abusers because of sexual orientation or gender identity. For more information about obtaining Civil Orders of Protection, reach out to the National LGBT Bar Association and/or the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.
In-Depth Information about Trans-Specific Power and Control Tactics
Forge discusses trans-specific power and control tactics. It is also available at https://forge-forward.org/resource/power-and-control-tactics-2/.
Remember, it’s not your fault, and you are not alone.
- FORGE: serves transgender and gender nonconforming survivors of domestic and sexual violence; provides referrals to local counselors, 1-414-559-2123
- Safety planning tool available at https://forge-forward.org/resource/safety-planning-tool/
- The Anti-Violence Project: serves people who are LGBTQ; Hotline 1-212-714-1141, Bilingual 24/7
- The Network La Red: serves people who are LGBTQ, poly and kink/BDSM; Bilingual. Hotline – Voice: 1-617-742-4911; Toll-Free: 1-800-832-1901; TTY: 1-617-227-4911
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) 24/7 or Online Counseling
- Love is Respect Hotline (for youth): online chat; 1-866-331-9474 (24/7); TTY: 1-866-331-8453; or Text “loveis” to 22522
- LGBT National Help Center: Youth Hotline 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743); LGBT National Hotline 1-888-843-4564; Sage LGBT Elder Hotline 1-888-234-7243; or Online Chat at http://www.volunteerlogin.org/chat/
- Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Hotline: 1-800-832-1901
- Northwest Network– serves LGBT survivors of abuse; can provide local referrals: 1-206-568-7777
- Trans Lifeline
- US- 877.565.8860
- Canada- 877.330.6366
- Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian, & Gay Survivors of Abuse: 1.206.568.7777 *Their resources are also readily available in Spanish
- Community United Against Violence: 415.333.HELP (4357) *Their resources are also readily available in Spanish
- LAMBDA GLBT Community Services Anti-Violence Project (AVP): 206.350.HATE
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE(7233); TTY 1.800.787.3224 *Their resources are also readily available in Spanish
American Bar Association. (n.d.) What Rights Do I have as an LGBT Victim of Domestic Violence [Brochure]. https://www.montanalawhelp.org/files/0ED0131F-1EC9-4FC4-652E-FC8C4E92C777/attachments/ECE24C0B-BBEB-2AD5-6CD0-55ED857408EC/466561ABA_LGBT-rights.pdf
Albright, M., & Alcantara-Thompson, D. (2018, December 10). Contextualizing Domestic Violence from a LGBTQ Perspective. VAWnet.Org. https://vawnet.org/material/contextualizing-domestic-violence-lgbtq-perspective
Forge. (2013, April 6). Trans-Specific Power and Control Tactics. VAWnet.Org. https://vawnet.org/material/trans-specific-power-and-control-tactics
Forge. (2013, January 10). Safety Planning Tool. Forge-forward.org. https://forge-forward.org/resource/safety-planning-tool/
Musimbe-Rix, S. (2020, May 6). Research: Domestic Abuse in LGBT Communities. KSSCRC.
NCADV. (2018, June 6). Domestic Violence and the LGBTQ Community. https://Ncadv.Org/Blog/Posts/Domestic-Violence-and-the-Lgbtq-Community. https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/domestic-violence-and-the-lgbtq-community
Northern Illinois University LGBT Resource Center. (1990). MYTHS & FACTS ABOUT SAME-SEX DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Adapted from: National Lesbian and Gay Health Foundation Conference, July 1990. Artemis Center. https://artemiscenter.org/wp-content/uploads/020/01/Myths-and-Facts-about-Same-Sex-Domestic-Violence.pdf
James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality. NCADV | National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2021, from https://ncadv.org/why-do-victims-stay
Partner Abuse in LGBQ/T Communities. (n.d.). The Network. Retrieved March 11, 2021, from https://www.tnlr.org/en/partner-abuse-in-lgbq-t-communities/