Much of domestic violence awareness is centered around heterosexual relationships, and despite this growing movement, the LGBTQ+ community has been largely left out over the years. However, recent research shows that members of the LGBTQ+ community are often victims of domestic abuse and violence at equal rates compared to heterosexual couples.
Navigating domestic violence in an LGBTQ+ relationship has its own challenges and in this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the LGBTQ+ domestic violence statistics and the barriers that they face in seeking help and receiving assistance.
A number of different studies, such as Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence in 2015 from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, have given greater insight into the statistics of domestic abuse in LGBTQ+ relationships.
Here are a few quick statistics gained through a number of research programs focussing on LGBTQ+ domestic violence:
As you can see, abuse and domestic violence are not limited to heterosexual relationships and people of all sexual orientations and genders are affected. The response to – and acknowledgment of – domestic violence in the LGBTQ+ community is gradually improving, however, many people in this situation find the barriers to seeking support insurmountable. In fact, around 45% of domestic violence victims in an LGBTQ+ relationship do not report the abuse.
These are the most common factors that contribute to the hesitation of reporting domestic violence in the LGBTQ+ community:
It’s a common misconception that domestic violence simply doesn’t happen in LGBTQ+ relationships. Domestic violence is commonly thought of as a male-on-female circumstance and as such, it’s hard for many people to imagine that it takes place outside of heteronormative relationships. This misconception often stops LGBTQ+ community members from stepping forward, as they worry that no one will believe them.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community deal with homophobia from many different avenues in society, and unfortunately, one of the most prevalent is within the police service. A history of harassment at the hands of law enforcement could deter someone from seeking help, even if they haven’t experienced it firsthand. The risk of the police and other professionals either not believing them or purposefully harassing them is simply too much for many people.
Although there has been an increase in the number of professionals that now handle domestic violence in the LGBTQ+ community, sometimes there can simply be a lack of training and understanding for the particular nuances that come with it. Most professionals have been trained to deal with domestic violence in heterosexual couples and this could make them less effective and understanding when it comes to LGBTQ+ couples.
The LGBTQ+ community has worked long and hard to get where they are today and many people suffering domestic abuse feel like reporting it could harm the positive steps taken. They worry that if they put a negative limelight on LGBTQ+ relationships that it could fuel anti-LGBTQ+ bias and force the community, as a whole, to take a step backward from equality.
For members of the community that have not “come out” to their friends and family, the thought of reporting domestic abuse can be a particularly challenging one. While they wish to report the violence, they risk outing themselves to their loved ones and perhaps experiencing homophobia, a lack of support, and a breakdown of some of their most cherished relationships. As such, many don’t report their domestic violence experience as a means to keep their sexual orientation to themselves.
There are plenty of places that heterosexual couples can turn to for support – whether that’s psychologists, counselors, domestic abuse shelters, and more. However, there is generally a lack of professional support for LGBTQ+ community members that need to get out of a domestic abuse situation or receive mental health assistance as a result.
At Naked Divorce, we welcome people from all walks of life and we’re a fully inclusive divorce and trauma counseling support program. Whether you’re getting a divorce, going through a breakup, or need help in overcoming the trauma associated with a domestic violence situation, we are here to walk and guide you along every step of the journey to a happy and healthy future.
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