All too often, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) communities have been ignored, or had to deal with violence externally and internally, without positive recognition, support and literature that is easily accessible. To this end, the Coalition is committed to continue supporting and recognizing these communities to the greatest extent possible.
Domestic violence can occur in any relationship regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, etc. Knowing this, it is also important for us to recognize that women/men from certain groups will face additional barriers. While cultural differences are important to recognize when dealing with battering they must never be used to excuse or deny the abuse.
There is a great diversity within the LGBTQ community and like other cultures, it has it’s own jargon, slang, and lingo. It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone in the LGBTQ community uses the following terms, agrees with all of them, or uses them the same way.
Gender Identify: A person’s internal sense or feeling of being masculine or feminine. Gender expression relates to how a person presents his or her sense of gender to the larger society. Gender identity may or may not be the same as the biological sex of the person.
Lesbian: A women who is attracted sexually, emotionally, and/or physically to other women.
Gay: A man who is attracted sexually, emotionally, and/or physically to other men. This term is sometimes used to include both men and women.
Heterosexual/Straight: A person who is sexually and emotionally attracted to someone of the opposite sex.
Heterosexism: An assumption that everyone is or should be heterosexual, and heterosexuality is superior to all other sexual oientations.
Homophobia: Fear, dislike, or hatred of homosexuality in others. Often exhibit by prejudice, discrimination, bullying or acts of violence.
Outing: Public disclosure of another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without the person’s knowledge or permission. It can be dangerous.
Transphopia: The systematic oppresion of transgendered people because they do not fit society’s expectations of what men and women are suppose to act like and look like.
Transgender: A person who identify more strongly with the other gender than the one they have been assigned. Women who feel like men or men who feel like women are transgender. Transgender people may identify as queer, heterosexual, homesexual, bisexual, pansexual or asexual.
Some transgendered people may categorized themselves as transexuals, cross-dressers, transvesites, androgynes, genderqueer, people who live cross-gender, drag kings, and drag queens.
Two-Spirit (also two spirit or twospirit) is a term for third gender people (for example, woman-living-man) that are among many, if not most, Native American and Canadian First Nations tribes. It usually implies a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit living in the same body. It is also used by some contemporary gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Native Americans to describe themselves. There are also native terms for these individuals in the various Native American languages.
The older term “berdache” is a generic term used primarily by anthropologists, and is frequently rejected as inappropriate and offensive by Native Americans. These individuals are often viewed as having two spirits occupying one body. Their dress is usually a mixture of traditionally male and traditionally female articles. They have distinct gender and social roles in their tribes.
Queer: Historically a negative term for homosexuality. Recently the LGBT movement has reclaimed the word to refer to itself, and is popularly used by the LGBTQ youth as a positive way to refer to themselves, is preferred because of its inclusiveness.
Questioning: A person who does not yet know their sexual orientation or gender identity, and may be at a period in their life when they are exploring who they are.
Barriers survivors face in abusive LGBTQ relationships
There are a number of stereotypes about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Communities, including:
- MYTH: Domestic violence does not exist in the LGBTQ community.
FACT: Rates of violence and abuse between LGBTQ partners are generally comparable to straight partners. Sexuality is not a key determinant of violence in a relationship; abuse is rooted in a desire to exert power and control over another person, regardless of sexual identity. However, oppression based upon nondominant sexual identities
- MYTH: In same-sex relationships, the abuser is always the more “butch” or the bigger person.
FACT: Dominance and submission are not necessarily related to physical size in any relationship, gay, straight or otherwise. Power and control can be wielded and cause harm even without a physical altercation.
- MYTH: Abusive or rough sex is just a part of who “they” are.
FACT: Mutually consensual sexual activity (which can also include roleplaying, BDSM and “rough sex”) is NOT the same as abuse. All of those sexual activities, when engaged in a healthy way, involve positive communication and continuous consent from all parties involved; the absence of that communication and consent is what defines violence and abuse. Additionally, many straight people enjoy these same activities; preferences for “rough sex” are not limited to the LGBTQ community.
- MYTH: In same-sex relationships, partners are more likely to be mutually combative and abusive.
FACT: Even if a victim “fights back” or appears to instigate mutual combat, there is nearly always a primary aggressor, or one person who is ultimately the source of abuse in a relationship. This does not justify retaliatory violence, but can help make sense of an abusive situation.
Some additional issues
- Homophobia and Transphobia in the protective systems, including hospitals, police courts, social services, and shelters or crisis lines
- Fear that children will be taken away
- Fear of being “outed” at work, with family, or with friends
- Fear of losing job
- Fear of not being believed about the abuse
- Fear of losing community, especially if they are a person of color, a parent, or a person
- Lack of resources and information regarding same sex or queer battering
- Fear of making community look “bad”
- Lack of information about laws and resources concerning same sex domestic violence
- Lack of trust based on historical experience in this state and country
- Attitudes and stereotypes about the prevalence of domestic violence in the LGBTQ communities
- Heightened sense of shame and self-blame for the abuse
- Our Work – Anti-Oppression and Equity
- Transgender Resource Sheet (assembled by Bradley Angle and Portland Q Center)
Bradley Angle (Portland’s primary LGBTIQ-specific DV/SA advocacy program)
Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse supports bisexual, transgendered, lesbian and gay survivors of abuse through education, organizing and advocacy
Responding to Transgender Victims of Sexual Assault, presented by the Office for Victims of Crime
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer+ (LGBTQ+)