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Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Intimate partner violence or IPV is physical, sexual, psychological, and/or emotional abuse committed against a person by a partner, relative, or other person well known to the victim. The primary motivation for IPV is to establish and maintain power and control over a partner. Intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ community is a serious issue. As in opposite-gendered couples, the problem is likely underreported. Facing a system which is often oppressive and hostile, those involved in same-gender battering frequently report being afraid of revealing their sexual orientation or the nature of their relationship. Others who do not identify as LGBTQ may not feel that their relationship fits the definition but may still be in an abusive and dangerous relationship.
- As in heterosexual partnerships, intimate partner violence among LBGTQ intimate partners crosses age, race, class and socio-economic lines.
- Each year, between 50,000 and 100,000 lesbian women and as many as 500,000 gay men are battered or abused (Murphy, 1995).
- Gay and bisexual men experience abuse in intimate partner relationships at a rate of 2 in 5, which is comparable to the amount of domestic violence experienced by heterosexual women (Greenwood, et al., 2002).
- Approximately 50% of the lesbian population has experienced or will experience IPV in their lifetimes (O’Brien, 2008).
- In one year, 44% of victims in LGBTQ domestic violence cases identified as men, while 36% identified as women (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2006).
- Same-sex batterers use forms of abuse similar to those of heterosexual batterers. They have an additional weapon in the threat of “outing” their partner to family, friends, employers or community (Lundy, 2003).
Similarities of LGBTQ and Opposite-Sex/Heterosexual IPV
- No one deserves to be abused.
- Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and involve verbal behavior.
- The purpose of the abuse is to maintain control and power over one’s partner.
- The abused partner feels alone, isolated and afraid, and is usually convinced that the abuse is somehow her or his fault, or could have been avoided if she or he knew what to do.
Unique Characteristics of LGBTQ/Same-Sex IPV
- In same-sex abuse, a form of emotional abuse for someone who is LGBTQ may be to “out” them at work or to family or friends.
- An LGBTQ individual who is being battered or abused must overcome homophobia and denial of the issue of IPV. Lesbians, bisexuals and gay men who have been abused frequently have much more difficulty in finding sources of support than heterosexual women who are battered by their male partners.
- Utilizing existing services (such as a shelter, attending support groups or calling a crisis line) often either means lying or hiding the gender of the abuser to be perceived (and thus accepted) as a heterosexual. Or it can mean “coming out”, which is a major life decision.
- Telling heterosexuals about abuse in an LGBTQ relationship can reinforce the myth many believe that LGBTQ relationships are “abnormal.” This can further cause the victim to feel isolated and unsupported.
- LGBTQ survivors of IPV may not know others who are lesbian, gay, or bi, meaning that leaving the abuser could result in total isolation.
- The LGBTQ community within the area may be small, and in all likelihood everyone the survivor knows will soon know of their abuse. Anonymity is often not an option.
To Support Someone who is a Victim
- Don’t be afraid to let him or her know that you are concerned for their safety. Help your friend or family member recognize the abuse. Tell him or her you see what is going on and that you want to help. Help them recognize that what is happening is not “normal” and that they deserve a healthy, non-violent relationship.
- Let them know that they can call you for help. Help them develop a plan concerning how they will get out if they to leave quickly, including having a bag prepared and easily accessible with essential documents (including identification, money, and anything else that might be needed), and arranging a place to stay in an emergency. Give them the keys to your house.
- Tell them about the local services available to them; counseling, advocacy with the police and criminal justice system and support groups. Some therapists specialize in LGBTQ intimate partner violence, as well.
- Don’t give up and don’t criticize them or turn them away because they don’t leave right away. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately the person getting hurt has to be the one to decide that they want to do something about it. It’s important for you to support him or her and help them find a way to safety and peace.
If You Are a Victim
- Recognize that you are not responsible for the abuse.
- Recognize that violence/abuse is not likely to stop on its own – episodes of violence usually become more frequent and more severe.
- It is important to break the silence. Try to tell someone who will believe you.
- You may be at a loss at where to turn for help. Call your local domestic violence program and ask about services offered for LGBTQ clients. If they do not have the services you need, ask for a referral to a program in a larger city near you; a program that is knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues and is LGBTQ positive, to help you address the pertinent issues of IPV with more comfort and focus.
- Also, you don’t have to out yourself in order to get help if you choose not to. The fact that you are a victim of intimate partner violence is enough for you to receive assistance. Do what you need to do to feel safe.
- Please don’t give up in reaching out for help. Even in small towns it is possible for you to find help from people sensitive to LGBTQ clients. Remember, you are not alone. Others have gone through the pain of being in an abusive relationship, and are willing to reach out to help you.
National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE
LAMBDA GLBT Community Services. LAMBDA is a non-profit, gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgender agency dedicated to reducing homophobia, inequality, hate crimes, and discrimination by encouraging self-acceptance, cooperation, and non-violence.
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project. The Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project is a grassroots, non-profit organization founded by a gay male survivor of domestic violence and developed through the strength, contributions and participation of the community.
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. NCAVP seeks to address the pervasive problem of violence committed against and within the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive communities.
Another Closet: Domestic Violence in Gay and Lesbian Relationships. This website is written for people in same sex relationships who are, or may be, experiencing domestic violence. http://ssdv.acon.org.au/
The Network/La Red. A national resource and model for battered women’s programs, batterer intervention programs, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender organizations beginning to address battering in lesbian, bisexual women’s, and transgender relationships.
Rainbow: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Domestic Violence. Dedicated to providing information, resources and support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered men and women who are victims of domestic violence.
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Survivor Project. A non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the needs of intersex and trans survivors of domestic and sexual violence through caring action, education and expanding access to resources and to opportunities for action.
AARDVARC. A non-profit organization dedicated to combating family and relationship violence, sexual violence and child abuse.
GLBT National Help Center. The GLBT National Help Center is organization that is dedicated to meeting the needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and those questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity.
State & Local
Dakota OutRight. Dakota Outright creates opportunity for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender North Dakotans and their families through leadership in service, development, education, advocacy and action.
University of North Dakota Ten Percent Society: Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Ally Community.A student-run, community-based organization open to people of all sexual orientations, whose primary goal is to provide a safe, respectful and supportive environment for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Students, Faculty, Staff & Members of the greater Grand Forks community.
Pride Collective and Community Center. Working to create a sense of community and promote education and social activities aimed at furthering the social, emotional, and physical well-being and development of the GLBT community in the Red River Valley.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). PFLAG is a non-profit, tax exempt organization of parents, families, and friends of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons.
Central Dakota PFLAG
Post Office Box 2491
Bismarck, ND 58502-2491
PFLAG Grand Forks
Grand Forks, ND 58201
Uni Med South
600 17th Ave., SE
Minot, ND 58701
525 North 4th Street | Bismarck, ND 58501 | Phone: (701) 255-6240 Toll-Free: (888) 255-6240