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Alameda County Family Justice Center

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About LGBTQ Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is often thought of as an issue involving heterosexual individuals. However, it occurs within relationships between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals at the same rate as with heterosexual individuals (http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/gay.shtml). Many tactics used in abusive LGBTQ relationships are similar to those used in relationships between heterosexual individuals, but LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence face unique issues. For example, a survivor may be threatened with being "outed" as being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning person. Because of the oppression faced by LGBTQ individuals, an abusive partner can tell his/her partner that no one will help him/her because he/she is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (Moore, Baum, Holt, & Couchman, 2001, 5)[1]. Sometimes, domestic violence within LGBTQ relationships is incorrectly seen as "mutual" or "consensual" (http://www.lambda.org/DV_background.htm). This may prevent a survivor from seeking help if he/she feels that no one will help because of this perception. Domestic violence shelters and agencies may not be sensitive to violence in LGBTQ relationships, leaving a survivor feeling isolated and stuck in the abusive relationship (Moore et al., 2001) [1].

Myths surrounding domestic violence in LGBTQ relationships can be dangerous to domestic violence survivors in these relationships. One such myth is that violence cannot occur in a relationship between two persons of the same gender. This myth assumes that since both people are of the same gender, there is no power differential. The reality is that domestic violence is a choice that one person makes to abuse a partner regardless of whether or not the partner is of the same gender (http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/gay.shtml).

[1] Moore, K., Baum, R., Holt, S., & Couchman, D. (2001). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Domestic Violence in 2000, 5.

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