Abusers in LGBTQ+ relationships, believe it or not, use the same tactics as violent partners in heterosexual relationships, including physical, sexual or emotional abuse, financial control, and isolation. However, research has shown that LGBTQ+ abusers also reinforce those tactics with societal factors that don’t affect heterosexuals the same way. Domestic violence actually occurs at similar or higher rates in LGBTQ+ relationships than in the general population, and it is just as damaging, despite stereotypes that all women are safe or that men should fight back. Since Greater Manchester became the first UK force to officially log domestic abuse figures last year, its police have recorded 775 cases. LGBTQ+ relationships are just as valid as heterosexual relationships, and abusive situations are difficult to leave no matter what.
Abusive LGBTQ+ partners often threaten to “out” their partners, say that no one will help them because of their sexuality or gender, justify abuse with the idea that the victim is not “really” LGBTQ+, monopolize the few support systems their partner might have, and portray the abuse as something desirable such as masculinity or strength in a way that isn’t always as desirable for heterosexual partners. All of these psychological forms of abuse can be just as devastating as physical abuse, which is also very high in LGBTQ+ relationships.
Additionally, many state laws make it so that both partners within LGBTQ+ relationships might not be legally recognized as parents of children, so the fear of losing children when leaving an abusive situation is often even higher than in heterosexual situations. Many LGBTQ+ members don’t have the same types of resources and legal recognition available as victims of same-sex domestic violence. They are, overall, simply less likely than heterosexual victims to ask for help.
Because the LGBTQ+ community has had to fight as hard as it has for full equality and marriage equality, it sees a lot more pressure than the heterosexual community does to present relationships within its members as loving and committed; it’s even harder to acknowledge weakness that could promote homophobic stereotypes. Weakness, however, is a human condition, and abuse happens in relationships of all shapes and types, no matter how marginalized you are. And it’s not just fear of being further marginalized by the heterosexual community; many members of the LGBTQ+ community push away people who claim domestic violence because it can appear as a lack of solidarity within
the community itself.
The thing about abuse is that it often is cyclical; if it begins, it likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and it can be lethal. Victims of abuse often feel isolated, a feeling LGBTQ+ members often experience on top of preexisting discrimination due to their sexuality or gender. At the Freedom K9 Project, we want you to know that you are seen and loved, and we are here for you and for your voice no matter your background. Recovery is a difficult process no matter what, and we are here to help.