Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Relationships





October 11 is "National Coming Out Day" and I've received questions concerning violence in same sex couple relationships.  With 40% of our homeless teens indicating that they are gay, there are bound to be questions and violence occurring within this population.




Reader Blake* asked, “Do people in same-sex relationships experience abuse in the same way heterosexual couples do?”


The short answer to this question is yes. Yes, Teen Dating Violence and Domestic Violence happen in straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, questioning, and transgendered relationships. It crosses all social, ethnic, racial, and socio-economic lines. An individual’s size, strength, politics, and/or personality do not determine whether he or she could be an abuser or a victim. Since Dating Violence and/or Domestic Violence is always about gaining and maintaining power and control over someone else in an intimate partner relationship it doesn’t matter what type of relationship it is. The methods of gaining and maintaining power and control are the same as a hetero couple with one exception. Not all LGBT&Q individuals are out of the closet to their family and friends. It is very easy for the batterer to threaten to out them to whoever does not know about their relationship status or sexual orientation.

Then the next logical step or question would be is why don’t we see it in the media or hear about it more often? This is where the question gets more complicated. Our society is much more aware of Domestic Violence relating to having a woman battered by a man. As an advocate in this field, I am just now seeing more men report that they are being battered by the women they are in a relationship with. The reason that we don’t hear more about this category of abuse is that there is a societal assumption that men cannot be battered because they are the stronger sex. Slowly, this assumption is changing due to the fact that more men are breaking that assumption and coming forward and reporting their abuse. Recently, one of the shelters that I work with has changed their name from the Battered Women’s Center to Domestic Violence Services in order to better serve the community and its needs.

So, when it comes to LGBT&Q relationships, advocates and social services organizations see even less reporting than men battered by women in heterosexual relationships. I strongly believe that this is due to that same societal assumption that women don’t batter women and men don’t batter men. In just about every high school I have visited, I have had the good fortune to meet LGBT&Q students that have come out of Dating Violence relationships safely. Each and every individual in any intimate partner relationship that is experiencing Teen Dating Violence or Domestic Violence need and deserve the same respect, access to services, and help that advocates and other DV services can provide because the abuse they are experiencing is the same as a hetero couple.Reader Julia asked, “Is abuse just as common in same sex relationships as it is in heterosexual relationships? How common is it?”

About 1 in every 5 female high school students report being physically abused and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. 57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship. That is a huge percentage and derived only from the statistics of those that report being abused. It most likely is a higher percentage if we take into account those who haven’t reported or don’t understand that they are being victimized. That is why education on Teen Dating Violence is so important. Since Dating Abuse is all about gaining and maintaining power and control over a dating partner no matter the sexual orientation of the individuals in the relationship, it is safe to assume that it is occurring with the same frequency in both hetero and LGBT&Q relationships.

According to a research article in the Journal of Adolescent Health, in August of 2004, it was found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents and youths involved in same-sex relationships are just as likely to experience dating violence as youths involved in opposite sex-dating. Unfortunately, when Teen Dating Violence occurs, the vast majority of reporting only comes from opposite sex couples. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening with the same frequency in LGBT&Q relationships. We currently just aren’t seeing the reporting in the same volume. This is a disturbing fact because individuals in LGBT&Q relationships with Teen Dating Violence need the same help that hetero couples do. Unfortunately, we truly don’t know the exact numbers or how common dating violence is in LGBT&Q relationships because of the lack of complete reporting and the current research for LGBT&Q dating violence information is not being conducted with the same intensity as heterosexual couple dating violence research.



Reader Julia asked, “Is abuse just as common in same sex relationships as it is in heterosexual relationships? How common is it?”

About 1 in every 5 female high school students report being physically abused and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. 57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship. That is a huge percentage and derived only from the statistics of those that report being abused. It most likely is a higher percentage if we take into account those who haven’t reported or don’t understand that they are being victimized. That is why education on Teen Dating Violence is so important. Since Dating Abuse is all about gaining and maintaining power and control over a dating partner no matter the sexual orientation of the individuals in the relationship, it is safe to assume that it is occurring with the same frequency in both hetero and LGBT&Q relationships.


According to a research article in the Journal of Adolescent Health, in August of 2004, it was found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents and youths involved in same-sex relationships are just as likely to experience dating violence as youths involved in opposite sex-dating. Unfortunately, when Teen Dating Violence occurs, the vast majority of reporting only comes from opposite sex couples. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening with the same frequency in LGBT&Q relationships. We currently just aren’t seeing the reporting in the same volume. This is a disturbing fact because individuals in LGBT&Q relationships with Teen Dating Violence need the same help that hetero couples do. Unfortunately, we truly don’t know the exact numbers or how common dating violence is in LGBT&Q relationships because of the lack of complete reporting and the current research for LGBT&Q dating violence information is not being conducted with the same intensity as heterosexual couple dating violence research.

Reasons to Be Beautiful Magazine  features questions from our readers in a “Q&A From a Teen Dating Violence Expert” column every week. Please send all questions to Dating@ReasonstoBeBeautiful.com. If you wish to remain anonymous, please tell us in your e-mail. You may ask as many questions as you desire.
*Names changed to protect our readers who wish to remain anonymous.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this important and often overlooked information. The less "traditional" the female, the more marginalized she is in America's judicial system. Domestic abuse is not specific to gender, nor gender identity -- it is an issue of violence and reliance upon a punitive model of behavior correction -- one endorsed on a societal level and condemned on a person level.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for posting this information. Abuse, whatever the type, knows no borders, no boundaries. It happens to all of us.

    ReplyDelete

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