(Information adapted from Education Wife Assault’s “Newsletter vol. 9.2”)
Although much is known about violence and abuse in heterosexual relationships, the same is not true about same-sex relationships. There are, however, some important points that can be made about same-sex relationships.
(The following information has been adapted from Mark Lehman’s “Screams in a Vacuum”, which deals with gay male domestic violence, and Jacqui Williams’ and Kathleen O’Connell’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It!”, which deals with abuse in lesbian relationships)
Domestic violence and abuse in same-sex relationships share many traits with heterosexual domestic violence and abuse.
Frequency (approximately one in four couples) (Lehman)
However, victims in same-sex relationships face problems that heterosexual victims do not.
Leaders of the gay male community claim there is “no problem” regarding violence and abuse. (Lehman)
Lesbian/bisexual women face stereotypes of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/queer/transgendered communities that assume women interact in caring and supportive manners, thereby making abusive relationships impossible. (Williams and O’Connell) (This misconception is also evident in the heterosexual community.)
Gay men often are affected by the myth that abuse or violence between two men is “normal”, “just fighting” or “actively initiated by both parties”. (Lehman)
In same-sex relationships, both partners might seek the same resources for help. Shelters accustomed to protecting their inhabitants from abusive members of the opposite sex, usually lack the methods that would deter partners of the same sex from infiltrating. Furthermore, if the couple is detained by the police or the court (for instance, before a hearing) both abuser and victim could be placed in the same cell on account of gender.
In order to maintain control over their partner, the aggressors often threaten to “out” their partners to work or family.
In addition to these specific problems within relationships, there are the ever-present complications and difficulties posed by societal views and misconceptions. Homophobia, ignorance, perpetuation of false and harmful stereotypes, lack of specific training in the judicial system, racism, misogyny, ableism, etc. all contribute to the barriers facing victims of abuse in same-sex relationships.