When we hear about domestic violence, it is typically surrounding a heterosexual narrative. This narrow perspective does not allow us to explore how deeply rooted domestic violence and dating abuse is rooted in the LGBTQIA+ community. In fact, rates of domestic violence are just as high and sometimes even higher within LGBTQIA+ relationships.
There are extremely similar abuse tactics utilized in most domestic violence cases; however, all domestic violence situations are unique in their own way. When it comes to looking at domestic violence within the LGBTQIA+ community, there are unique factors that are specific to their abuse survival. For example, the fact that domestic violence is centralized around the concept of gaining power and control over another person can often involve gender and sexual identity. Abusers can threaten to out their partners to loved ones or at work if they do not give in to the abusive demands. This power and control can also be used when it comes to self-image and worth directly tied to gender and/or sexual orientation. For example, an abuser can directly blame the abuse on the gender or sexual identity of the survivor. Internalized homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are often manipulated as weapons in these abusive situations. It is also important to realize that these survivors have most likely already faced some form of hate, abuse, or criticism directly tied to their LGBTQIA+ identity in the past. This means that the abuser has previous trauma to use as an abuse tactic, as well as possible trauma themselves that they are projecting onto the survivor. These abuse tactics can come out in physical, mental, verbal, emotional, sexual, financial, and/or spiritual ways.
Outside of unique abuse tactics, resources also differ for survivors who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Many survivors fear that there are not resources available to them and will often not come forward because of this belief. Many survivors fear rejection, further abuse, or even hate crimes for coming forward as a survivor of domestic violence in a LGBTQIA+ relationship. They might also have a fear of lack of confidentiality if they have not come out or publicly identified as anything but heterosexual. There is also an overall lack of representation in mainstream media in regards to domestic violence. Many movies or TV shows depicting domestic violence are between a cisgender man and cisgender woman, in a heterosexual relationship. Although this is a valid narrative to write, it cannot be the only one that we see or hear about. When we discuss domestic violence and abuse, it is so essential that we use inclusive language that does not dictate a person's perception of services or resources available to them. Another way that resources differ is in research. So much of the domestic violence research and prevention/intervention efforts are focused around cisgender heterosexual relationships. This creates a stigma and only fuels stereotypes that prevent survivors from seeking help.
Domestic violence does look different in this community, as well as abuse aftermath, purely based on the unique challenges that they are forced to face. Living a life free of abuse is a right that everyone has. Living a life full of healthy, happy relationships is a right that everyone has. Living a life where resources and support are readily available no matter your gender or sexual orientation is a right everyone has. If you or someone you know about is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and struggling with domestic violence, dating violence, or other form of relationship abuse, please reach out to us and speak with a Certified Advocate today.