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social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

Domestic Violence  
page: 1  2  

Effects of Homophobia

Additionally, glbtq relationships are always affected by homophobia--both internalized shame and institutionalized . Glbtq people are often isolated within their coupled relationship, and fear interference and judgments from outsiders. If they have homophobic family members, they may be afraid to come out to them, let alone tell them that a gay partner is abusing them.

Given the lack of social approval or legal protection for gay and lesbian people with children, glbtq victims of violence are often fearful of calling the police or involving the criminal justice system. This is especially the case for people of color who have been mistreated by law enforcement officials. Sometimes victims hesitate to contact the police when a batterer is a person of color, knowing how poorly he or she may be treated within the criminal justice system.

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Domestic violence can occur between partners who are abusing alcohol or illegal substances. However, substance use is not causative; these are two co-occurring phenomena, and treating one will not necessarily decrease or "cure" the other. Alcohol or substance abuse issues do, however, complicate people's ability to seek support when relationships become abusive.

Forms of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can take many forms in addition to physical battering and sexual assault. It can also be emotional or psychological; it can involve stalking or isolation, economic abuse and destruction of property, and threats regarding children or "outing" someone at a job or with family.

Abuse can include psychological intimidation such as name-calling, yelling, and blaming. Abusers often try to isolate their victims, not allowing them social or work-related friendships, and controlling their access to the telephone or the Internet. Sometimes perpetrators will threaten to harm children or pets as a way to maintain control over their partners.

"Outing" is a unique glbtq relationship dynamic, where an abusive partner will threaten to tell an employer, child, or relative that a person is gay. Going public with information about sexual identity can be damaging not just psychologically; it can also can assist courts in removing children from alternative families.

Leaving Abusive Relationships

Violence in relationships tends to become more frequent and more lethal over time. However, it is often very difficult to leave abusive relationships, because the threat of violence tends to escalate when an abused person tries to leave.

Because of the silence regarding glbtq domestic violence, the absence of support and treatment programs, and the general lack of education and information available about domestic violence in glbtq families, it is difficult for people to leave abusive relationships. Victims often feel isolated and afraid, and struggle with feelings of shame and public stigma.

People stay in abusive relationships because they see no other options and because they are afraid of retaliation if they leave. Perhaps they have no experience or expectation of being in a violence-free relationship. Additionally, financial considerations, concern for the safety of children, and lack of safe houses or shelters may also keep people in abusive relationships.

Commonly, victims of abuse experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even after leaving a relationship have intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares that affect their healing and their ability to establish non-abusive relationships.

The Need for Increased Research and Improved Services

There is a great need for increased research on glbtq people who are victims, as well as perpetrators, of domestic violence. Researchers need to examine the relationships between domestic violence, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, and bias-related violence.

Social service agencies and law enforcement officials need increased training in glbtq domestic violence issues, and therapists--including both those who specialize in working with glbtq people and those who are generalists--need education and clinical skills to recognize and treat glbtq domestic violence.

Additionally, the glbtq community must acknowledge the existence of domestic violence and sexual assault within the community, so we can better support our friends, as well as assist in the development of public policies that protect glbtq families impacted by domestic violence.

Arlene Istar Lev

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Girshick, Lori. Woman-to-Woman Sexual Violence. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2002.

Island, David, and Patrick Letellier. Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence. Binghamton, N. Y.: Haworth Press, 1991.

Kaschak, Ellyn, ed. Intimate Betrayal: Domestic Violence in Lesbian Relationships. Binghamton, N. Y.: Haworth Press, 2002.

Leventhal, Beth, and Sandy Lundy, eds. Same-Sex Domestic Violence : Strategies for Change. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1999.

Lobel, Kerry, ed. Naming the Violence: Speaking Out About Lesbian Battering. Seattle: Seal Press, 1986.

Lombardi, Emilia L., Riki Anne Wilchins, D. Priesing, and D. Malouf. "Gender Violence: Transgender Experiences with Violence and Discrimination." Journal of Homosexuality 42 (2001): 89-101.

McClennan, Joan C., and John Gunther, eds. A Professional Guide to Understanding Gay and Lesbian Domestic Violence: Understanding Practice Interventions. Lewiston, N. Y.: Edwin Mellon Press, 1999.

Renzetti, Claire M. Violent Betrayal: Partner Abuse in Lesbian Relationships. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1992.

_____, and Charles Harvey Miley, eds. Violence in Gay and Lesbian Domestic Partnerships. Binghamton, N. Y.: Haworth Press, 1996.

Ristock, Janice. No More Secrets: Violence in Lesbian Relationships. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Scarce, Michael. Male on Male Rape: The Hidden Toll of Stigma and Shame. New York: Plenum Press, 1997.

Sloan, Lacy, and Tonya Edmond. "Shifting the Focus: Recognizing the Needs of Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Sexual Violence." Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 5.4 (1996): 33-52.

van der Kolk, Bessel A., Alexander C. McFarlane, and Lars Weisaeth, eds. Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society. New York: Guilford Press, 1996.

Walker, Lenore. The Battered Women Syndrome. New York: Springer, 1984.


    Citation Information
    Author: Lev, Arlene Istar  
    Entry Title: Domestic Violence  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated January 18, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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