October 7, 2021 Blog

Domestic Violence and the LGBTQ+ Community

Every year on October 11th, the LGBTQ+ community celebrates National Coming Out Day; a national day of awareness to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness about the activism happening in the LGBTQ+ community. Today, we recognize the bravery of the millions of LGBTQ+ members who are able to live freely as their full selves and we bring awareness to the many community members that are still not safe to come out. When people know someone who is LGBTQ+ they are more likely to support equality measures. It’s also a reminder that our stories have the power to impact people’s thoughts and actions. 

In that spirit, and in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we hope to raise awareness about intimate partner violence in the LBGTQ+ community.

Generally, conversations about domestic violence center on heterosexual relationships and domestic abuse is portrayed as a women’s issue. While it’s true that domestic violence disproportionately impacts women, it does not discriminate. Domestic violence can be experienced or perpetrated by any person in any intimate relationship. 

Persistent stereotypes about domestic violence make it more difficult for LGBTQ+ people to seek help, which is one reason it is so important to raise awareness about intimate partner violence in LGBTQ+ relationships.

Data suggests that LGBTQ+ people are at greater risk for violence, including intimate partner violence, than their heterosexual peers. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals experience sexual violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexual people, according to the CDC. And studies suggest that half of transgender people will experience sexual violence at least once in their lifetimes. 

Intimate partner violence against all people can take many forms, from physical abuse to threats to coercion. Certain forms of abuse impact the LGBTQ+ community specifically. Fear of being “outed,” or having one’s sexual orientation/gender identity revealed, can be used both as a tool of abuse and manipulation and as a barrier that prevents people from seeking help. Additionally, previous experience with abuse or trauma, particularly violence as a result of one’s LGBTQ+ status, can make individuals less likely to report intimate partner violence. 

In all domestic violence situations, the presence of a gun exponentially increases the risk of death. Learn more about the deadly combination of firearms and intimate partner violence here.

The pandemic exacerbated the risk of domestic violence across the board. Pandemic-induced social isolation, financial hardship, and uncertainty increased tensions and left many survivors isolated and unable to seek help. Data suggests the risks are even higher for LGBTQ+ folks, who are more likely to work in industries that are greatly affected by the pandemic.

Here are additional resources to seek help or to learn more about domestic violence in LGBTQ+ relationships:

Chelsey Wright is Office & Administrative Specialist at the Alliance