The Facts 

Abuse CAN happen in LGBT+ relationships

Domestic abuse does not discriminate and occurs proportionally across all groups, subgroups and categories of people. Victims and abusers come from all cultures, all sexual orientations, all gender identities, all socioeconomic classes. Partner abuse is NOT more common in straight relationships than same-sex or poly relationships.

Domestic abuse is NOT more common in straight relationships than LGBT+ relationships

There is no reason to assume that people who are LGBT+ are less at risk of domestic abuse than heterosexual men and women. UK research suggests the prevalence of partner abuse is similar, if not higher in LGBT+ relationships occurring in approximately 25% to 38% of relationships. Transgender individuals may be at even higher risk, as research demonstrates 80% of transgender people have experienced emotionally, sexually, or physically abusive behaviour by a partner or former partner.

Abuse in LGBT+ relationships is NOT a ‘lovers quarrel’. Abuse is never mutual

Abuse is never ‘a cat fight’ between two women or ‘boys being boys’. Two women in a relationship do not automatically guarantee equality and two men in a relationship are not ‘fighting it out’ all the time. There is nothing equal or fair or mutual about partner abuse. Abuse is about controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour. Although the abused partner may fight back, there is a difference between violent resistance and abuse. Dismissing partner abuse as ‘a lover’s quarrel’ trivializes the abuse and allows it to continue.

Domestic abuse CAN happen in a variety of living situations

Many LGBT+ couples are not married and may not live together. LGBT survivors may also use different language to describe their partner such as: husband, wife, domestic partner, lover, girlfriend, boyfriend, significant other, carer, romantic friend, etc. Abuse can happen in the context of any of these relationships.

Domestic abuse is NOT about size or strength, or who looks more masculine

By definition, a perpetrator of domestic abuse is someone who is or has recently been using violence, abuse, fear, force, threats and coercive control to a family member, intimate partner or ex-partner. Abuse is about a willingness to use tactics to gain power and control over another person regardless of how a person is, how a person looks or their gender or sexual identity. Age, size, weight, masculine or feminine appearance or any other physical attribute or role is not an indicator of whether a person will be a victim or an abuser.

Women abusers are NOT less physically abusive

Anyone can choose to be abusive or not. Men can be and are victims of domestic violence. Women can be and are abusers. Because of gender stereotypes, many people believe that a woman abuser is more likely to use emotional tactics of abuse rather that physical tactics. The truth is that female abusers can and do use the same tactics as male abusers including tactics such as pushing, hitting, beating, raping and sometimes killing their partners. There is no reason to take female abusers less seriously.

Sexual violence DOES happen in LGBT+ relationships

Sexual abuse in LGBT+ relationships is as common as among heterosexual couples and can include: unwanted advances, unwanted sexual contact, rape, forcing sex, intentional exposure to HIV or sexually transmitted infections, withholding sex in order to control the partner; etc. In approaching support services, LGBT+ victims may deal with the added shame of being the target of sexual violence from someone in their own community. They may also minimise the sexual abuse they experienced, because of stereotypes that women cannot be rapists and that men cannot be raped. Sexual violence is more prevalent for gay men in abusive relationships than for heterosexual male victims.

It is NOT easier for LGBT+ survivors to leave abusive relationships than it is for heterosexual counterparts who are married

There is no reason to believe that LGBT+ people are not as involved in each-others’ lives as are opposite-sex couples. Some LGBT+ people might even be more couple or family oriented, as they might have experienced isolation or alienation from their own families and social networks. There is also no evidence that the absence of children makes leaving an abusive partner easier as barriers to leaving may also be: a lack of inclusive and LGBT+ informed systems of support and lack of support from the victim’s family and social circles. Victims may also be threatened with ‘outing’ if they attempt to leave or might be made to believe that potential systems of support will be homophobic, heterosexist and unsupportive. In cases where the abused partner is in the UK on a spousal visa, an abuser might take advantage of their lack of awareness about immigration law, and threaten to deport them back to their country of origin, which might be unsafe due to anti-LGBT+ legislation.

Does your partner, ex-partner, or family member/s

  • Call you names, humiliate and criticise or belittle you?
  • Use your gender or sexuality as a basis for threats, intimidation or harm?
  • Threaten to harm you or others that you love?
  • Threaten to hurt your pets?
  • Threaten to out you to family, work or School
  • Control your access to money and require you to account in detail for what you spend?
  • Make unwanted advances or force you into unwanted sexual contact?
  • Hit, shove, grab, kick, bite, slap, throw things, or use other forms of physical violence on you?
  • Control or discourage your contact with friends, family, work, or the LGBT+ community?
  • Emotionally blackmail you and threaten to harm themselves if you leave or seek help?
  • Limit your movement and monitor your whereabouts?
  • Accuse you of cheating on them?
  • Prevent you from working or attending school / education?
  • Refuse to engage in safe sex?
  • Blames their drinking or drug use for their abusive behaviour?
  • Use, or threaten to use, a weapon against you?
  • Damage your belongings?
  • Intentionally use the wrong gender pronouns.
  • Prevent you from transitioning
  • Deny you access to medical treatment or hormones?
  • Monitor your communication with others?
  • Uses your race, immigration status, physical ability and/or ethnicity, against you?
  • Pressure or force you into marriage without your consent?
  • Blames you for their behaviour?
  • Minimises the harm caused by their behaviour?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you may be experiencing domestic abuse.

The Brunswick Centre: Support for LGBT+ people across Kirklees

LGBT Foundation Advice Support & Information

T: 0345 3 30 30 30 – E: [email protected]

24hr Helpline
0800 052 7222

Key provider of domestic abuse support services.