By Saida Barbar
Whilst domestic abuse can happen to anyone, there is a lack of public awareness and research into domestic abuse in LGBT relationships. A reported 22% of people female same sex and 29% of people male same sex relationships have experienced some form of abuse. Studies have found that incidences of domestic violence in LGBT relationships is comparable and, in some countries, reported to be higher than in heterosexual relationships. If this is the case, why is only 3% of the research into domestic violence focused on LGBT couples?
Existing stereotypes surrounding the perpetrators of domestic violence helps to explain why it may be under reported and under researched. The general public heteronormative views of what domestic abuse looks like is with a man as the inflictor and a woman as the person experiencing it. However, in a same sex relationship, these stereotypes cannot be met. This can make reporting domestic abuse even more daunting, as survivors may not know if their partner’s behaviour is abusive or not.
Survivors of domestic abuse in same- sex couples may not see the abuse they are experiencing as something worth reporting. This belief can stem from a homophobic view, for example that gay men are not as strong as heterosexual men and therefore gay men cannot commit abuse. Members of the LGBT community experiencing domestic abuse may be afraid to report it and seek help due to bringing stigma to an already oppressed community. For example, people in lesbian relationships may feel a sense of shame that women can be the perpetrators of abuse, not just men and therefore will not report it.
With increased knowledge of how to access support and spreading awareness that abuse between anyone, no matter the gender is equally as damaging and harmful as abuse in a heterosexual relationship, survivors may feel more comfortable to come forward and seek help and support. Help can be found at Galop, an LGBT specific domestic abuse charity. 0800 999 5428