Safe + Sound Blog

The LGBTQ+ Community and Domestic Violence


During PRIDE Month, it’s important to recognize and spread information about how social issues such as domestic violence may affect individuals in the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning +) community differently.

MYTH: Domestic violence doesn’t happen in the LGBTQ+ community.

FACT: LGBTQ+ people experience equal or higher rates of domestic violence compared to heterosexual people.

Source: 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey

Barriers to Getting Help

Additionally, survivors of domestic abuse in this community may experience added barriers and difficulties in seeking help. LGBTQ+ people may not report abuse, file for restraining orders, or seek domestic violence services, especially if they are not already “out” or known as an LGBTQ+ person. They may instead try to protect their physical and emotional safety by keeping the abuse a secret, potentially making them even more isolated within the abusive relationship over time.

There are other reasons that people may avoid reaching out for services. This community has a long history of experiencing violence from police, leading many LGBTQ+ people to doubt that the legal system will work in their favor.

The following graphic displays a few ways that transgender and nonbinary people experience domestic violence or difficulties in seeking help:

Intersectionality

People have multiple identities, and their experiences within those identities can create additional obstacles. This is intersectionality as coined by lawyer Kimberlé Crenshaw:

“The complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect, especially in experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.” (Merriam-Webster)

For example, a Black gay survivor may experience intense fear about calling the police during a domestic violence incident. Identifying as gay, a person might fear being “outed” to police. Identifying as Black, someone might fear for his physical safety and that of his family when dealing with police. Being both gay and Black, the fear combines and may result in a fear that is greater than the sum of its parts. As a result, Black LGBTQ+ survivors have a unique experience and may need additional support and services. As we talk about warning signs of abuse and spread information about domestic violence, we must remember to account for multiple forms of discrimination and how they combine to impact an individual’s experience.

Safe+Sound Somerset supports LGBTQ+ survivors by ensuring that our services are available to all, and our safe house welcomes trans people and men. You are not alone.

Call or text our confidential 24/7 hotline 866-685-1122 for information, safety planning or supportive listening. Our services are provided at no cost.

For information about how Safe+Sound Somerset serves LGBTQ+ survivors, read our post here