People might think of dating abuse involving a man harming a woman, but it's also a problem in the LGBTQ community. Up to 1 in 3 same-sex relationships are abusive. However, despite the high rates of abuse in the young LGBTQ relationships, the problem is rarely reported.
Common Myths People Believe
Some people think that same-sex couples can’t be abusive because their relationships are more “equal” than heterosexual ones. Many assume a man can defend himself against another man, and a woman can defend herself against another woman. Also, some believe that a woman is too passive to abuse another woman.
Many LGBTQ youth incorrectly believe that no one will help them because they are gay or that the law only protects people in straight relationships—these are roadblocks that prevent young LGBTQ individuals from getting the help they need to get out.
Why It Isn't Reported
LGBTQ young people often feel isolated when they see signs of homophobia (fear and discrimination of LGBTQ people) in their family, friends, and school administrators. A relationship, even an abusive one, can get rid of these feelings, if only for a short time.
Additionally, people in same-sex relationships often feel like they won't be taken seriously if they report it.
Lastly, domestic violence shelters are mainly for women, leaving men with fewer places to turn. Since shelters are open to all women, a lesbian victim may be afraid that her abuser will gain access to the shelter that she is in.
LGBTQ matters of law
- Most states have laws with gender neutral language as part of overall domestic violence response. It is up to courts to decide if same-sex relationships apply to domestic violence protections.
- Hawaii specifically extends protection to LGBTQ victims
- Three states (Louisiana, Montana, and South Carolina) specifically define domestic violence protection to be within an opposite-sex relationship.
- If the law doesn't consider an incident domestic violence, there are other ways LGBTQ victims can protect themselves. Past victims have pressed criminal charges as another option. Each situation should be handled on a case-by-case basis with you and law enforcement. If you don’t think law enforcement will be receptive, call 1.888.988.TEEN to anonymously talk to a professional and work out a plan that works for you.
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American Bar Association