IPV can happen in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer relationships just as it can in any other intimate relationship.
Most studies have found that the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) is as high or in some cases higher than that of general population.
While there are similarities between heterosexual and LGBT IPV, some unique features are identified in LGBT IPV. These are mostly related to acknowledgement of IPV prevalence affecting this group.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the LGBT is barrier to seeking help that is unique to their sexual orientation and gender identity. This puts them at a greater risk of more violence, depression, substance abuse, and other IPV-related consequences.
What can you do?
Abuse is never okay and it is important to get help if you are in an abusive relationship.
Acknowledging that you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship is already a big step forward.
Many people spend months or even years of their lives in unhealthy relationships without realizing that what they are going through is not right and they deserve better treatment
As soon as you decided that your relationship is abusive or intolerable, it’s important to do something about it immediately.
Unhealthy or abusive behaviours do not change unless both partners take action.
Taking action can be tough. Often, by the time people realize they are in abusive relationship, their partners have already managed to put them down so much that the victims no longer have the willpower to protest
To regain the strength to break free, you need to realize that many of the things your partner has told you- for instance, that you aren’t worth much, or that you could never make it on your own- are lies.
But opening your eyes to lies that you have heard again and again is not easy, especially if you have to do it by yourself.
Know that it doesn’t have to be that way. If something in your relationship doesn’t feel right, don’t just rely on what you have been told and accept it.
Instead, reach out for help and counselling. Talk with somebody more experienced than you- a trusted adult, teacher, professional counsellor or a member of support group. Explain what you are going through and ask for advice.
Once you have cleared your mind and you feel ready to act, you have three options:
- Talk directly with your partner about the aspects of your relationship that need to change.
- Seek professional help. An experienced professional can provide an honest and unbiased guidance on what to do.
- End the relationship and move on with your life.
You should consider option 1 and 2 only if you have reason to believe that it is possible to have a mature discussion about the issues with your partner and you feel hopeful about his or her willingness to listen and work on improving your relationship.
If this is not the case, or if you have a discussion but do not see any sign of progress, don’t waste any more time and energy. Just say good bye and move on
If you have a reason to believe that your partner might hurt you if you leave him or her, take some precautions before communicating your decision to end the relationship.
Discuss the situation with a trusted adult such as a parent, a relative, a teacher or a counsellor.
You are not alone. People who know and understand what you are going through are ready to help you- all you need to do is ask.
What others can do
Counselors can be particularly helpful to LGBT IPV survivors seeking counselling services. These service providers should establish and address survivors’ specific needs. They should invest time to understand the plight of the LGBT in terms of the diverse groups and with regards to IPV, the existing gaps and LGBT-specific assistance and resources.
Physicians attending to victims of IPV should not assume that all patients are heterosexual. They should be aware of, and act in a nonjudgmental way towards, sexual minorities. This includes being inclusive in language and approach to services. Basically, physicians should intervene in a similar manner that they would with non-LGBT patients but at the same time bear in mind the unique medical needs of some sexual minorities.
There is also need for organizations that offer safe shelters to victims of IPV to be nonjudgmental and non-discriminatory towards LGBT persons. Although these shelters are not very popular especially among sexual minorities, since they may fear stigmatization and discrimination, these groups need to know that these shelters are open to them.
The security and legal system are not helpful at addressing IPV among LGBT given the legal challenges. This is also worsened by the negative cultural attitudes towards the LGBT. LGBT people fear reporting since this is a way of outing themselves thus risking unintended outing, harassment and discrimination.
Finally, there is the need for open discussions about LGBT IPV by both LGBT and non-LGBT groups. There is the need to raise awareness levels on the prevalence and impact of domestic and sexual violence in LGBTQ communities. There is also the need for LGBTQ-inclusive violence prevention measures.
What are your views about LGBT IPV? What solutions need to be put in place?