The prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) is higher among sexual minority men and women (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer) than rates reported for heterosexuals, but there are fewer resources dedicated to the unique needs of these populations, according to a review published recently by the Crime Victims’ Institute.
“The victimization of same-sex partners has been generally overlooked by the criminal justice system, victim service organizations, and social policies due to the traditional assumption that IPV is a heterosexual women’s problem,” said Doctoral Candidate Hae Rim Jin and Dr. Cortney Franklin, authors of the report. “This has, unfortunately, resulted in limited resources devoted to and tailored especially for sexual minorities so that the most vulnerable survivors are left without a safety net.”
Research has illustrated that sexual minority survivors face higher risks of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse due to the increased stress from bias, homophobia and discrimination. This has produced negative health outcomes, such as depression, anger, confusion, stress, difficulty with family, or problems at work. Same-sex survivors are less likely to disclose the abuse to police or social service agencies because of the fear of being discredited, blamed, or mistreated.
To address these issues, officials in criminal justice and victim service agencies would benefit from multi-faceted cultural sensitivity training to better assist survivors of same-sex IPV by getting them the help they need. “Additional efforts are necessary, however, to fully comprehend the complex nature of LGBTQ relationships, identify causes of violence derived from internal and external factors, and recognize the unique social, medical, and psychological needs of sexual minorities,” said Jin and Franklin.
Three Texas-based advocacy organizations, the Family Place in Dallas, the LBGT Initiative of the Texas Advocacy Project, and the LGBT Caucus at the Texas Council on Family Violence, have set up model programs to serve survivors of same-sex IPV. The Family Place offers safe housing, counseling for adult survivors and their children, battering intervention, legal services, and resources for survivors to escape abusers. The LGBT Initiative provides free legal assistance and resources to obtain protective orders in same-sex relationships. Finally, the LGBT Caucus provides pertinent information, facilitates open dialog, and provides resources to discuss the dynamics and stigma surrounding IPV among same-sex couples as well as negative attitudes toward LGBTQ communities that may pose challenge to effective service provision among providers.
“The importance of education and awareness programs for both service providers and the general public is underscored as a necessity to counter the negative stigma, homophobic attitudes, and discriminating responses toward sexual minorities,” said Jin and Franklin.
“Intimate Partner Violence among Sexual Minority Populations,” is available through the Crime Victims’ Institute