Domestic Violence and the LGBTQ Community

Woman holding pride flag

While there is a need for more research, recent studies suggest that the LGBTQ community experiences domestic violence at rates similar or slightly higher than heterosexual women. In many ways, domestic violence committed in LGBTQ relationships is similar to domestic violence committed in cisgender heterosexual relationships. It may include emotional, psychological abuse, economic abuse, physical violence, and/or sexual assault. But, LGBTQ survivors also face some distinct challenges.

LGBTQ survivors face unique challenges

Abusers may threaten to “out” survivors by revealing their sexual orientation or gender identity to family members, employers, or landlords. They play on survivors’ fears of losing their job, home, or child custody to keep them silent. Parents may also fear that reporting abuse will lead to losing custody of non-biological children they raise with their abusers.

LGBTQ individuals may face homophobia and/or transphobia from police, courts, housing providers, and social service agencies, making it harder to get much-needed help. Survivors who reach out for support may be turned away due to limited knowledge or lack of LGBTQ friendly resources.

Since same-sex couples frequently have the social network, abusers may try to discredit, undermine, or isolate survivors from friends who might otherwise support them.

Individuals may also fear that airing their personal problems as LGBTQ individuals will hamper the community’s progress or generate backlash.

At LifeWire, we believe every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves to feel safe, respected, and loved in an intimate relationship. LGBTQ survivors can access all of LifeWire’s services, including emergency shelter, housing services, support groups, one-on-one counseling, and legal advocacy.

Other resources:

The Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse works to end violence and abuse by building loving and equitable relationships in our community and across the country.

FORGE is a national transgender anti-violence organization.

NCAVP: The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs provides free and confidential assistance to thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected people each year from all five boroughs of New York City through direct client services and community organizing and public advocacy.