Domestic violence in same-sex relationships

The purple ribbon promotes awareness of domestic violence

Domestic violence in same-sex relationships is a pattern of violence or abuse that occurs within same-sex relationships. Domestic violence is an issue that affects people of any sexuality, but there are issues that affect victims of same-sex domestic violence specifically.[1] These issues include homophobia, HIV and AIDS stigma, STD risk and other health issues, lack of legal support, and the violence they face being considered less serious than heterosexual domestic violence.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11] Moreover, the issue of domestic violence in same-sex relationships has not been studied as comprehensively as domestic violence in heterosexual relationships.[12] However, there are legal changes being made to help victims of domestic violence in same-sex relationships, as well as organizations that cater specifically to victims of domestic violence in same-sex relationships.[13][14][15]

Relationship prevalence

General

The Encyclopedia of Victimology and Crime Prevention states, "For several methodological reasons – nonrandom sampling procedures and self-selection factors, among others – it is not possible to assess the extent of same-sex domestic violence. Studies on abuse between gay male or lesbian partners usually rely on small convenience samples such as lesbian or gay male members of an association."[16]

Gay males and lesbians

Some sources state that gay and lesbian couples experience domestic violence at the same frequency as heterosexual couples,[17] while other sources state domestic violence among gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals might be higher than among heterosexual individuals, that gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals are less likely to report domestic violence that has occurred in their intimate relationships than heterosexual couples are, or that lesbian couples experience domestic violence less than heterosexual couples do.[18] By contrast, some researchers commonly assume that lesbian couples experience domestic violence at the same rate as heterosexual couples, and have been more cautious when reporting domestic violence among gay male couples.[16] According to a 2012 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence Gay men were more likely to require medical attention and suffer injuries as a result of IPV. Gay men were close to two times (1.7) more likely to require medical attention and 16 times more likely to suffer injury as compared to individuals who did not identify as gay men.[19] A 2014 review of the literature found that rates of domestic violence among same-sex couples are similar to or greater than opposite-sexed couples.[20]

In a 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, reporting on domestic violence in the U.S., 26% of gay men said that they experienced physical violence, stalking, or rape by their partners.[21] 29% of heterosexual men reported similar violence in the same study.

The CDC also stated that 40% of lesbian women reported physical violence by their partners, and 44% reported experiencing physical violence, stalking, or rape by their partners. In contrast, 35% of heterosexual women reported physical violence, stalking, or rape by their partners in the same study.[21]

Literature on intimate partner violence (IPV) among same-gender female couples; researchers found that internalized homophobia and discrimination were correlated with IPV.[22] In addition, in research done on psychological aggression of lesbian relationships, researchers found that internalized homophobia and social constraints in talking with friends about sexual identity issues showed correlation with IPV.[23] Literature on intimate partner violence (IPV) among same-gender male couples, SES, attachment orientation, HIV status, and public outness, and internalized homophobia showed relationship with intimate partner violence in gay men.[24] Similarly, a study conducted on the predictors of IPA of gay men found a correlation between public outness, alcohol consumption, and internalized homophobia [25]

Bisexual

Although bisexual people may be in relationships with people of any gender, they are often victims of domestic violence. The CDC reported that 61% of bisexual women said they experienced physical violence, stalking, or rape by their partners.[21] For men in the same study, 37% reported having experienced similar violence.

For both men and women, the percentage of bisexual people who have experienced domestic violence is higher than either gay men or lesbians. The high rate of domestic violence faced by bisexual people may be in part because of the specific challenges bisexual people face in receiving help, as bisexuality is often misunderstood, even by those who administer domestic violence help professionally.[8]

Transgender

Transgender people may be in relationships with people of any gender, but they experience high rates of domestic violence. Comparatively, little research has been conducted on domestic violence towards transgender individuals, especially within the context of romantic relationships. In a 2009 United States study, 56% to 66% of transgender individuals reported experiencing violence within their homes, though not necessarily by a romantic partner.[26]