Myths and facts

There are many myths surrounding domestic violence in same sex relationships. Some myths excuse the abuse while others ‘blame the victim’. Either way myths make it difficult for the person experiencing abuse to seek and get help and for them or others to understand the real issues.

Myth: Violence in gay and lesbian relationships is a mutual fight.
Fact: Domestic violence is about power and control and will almost always involve a number of forms of abuse, for example emotional or social abuse. Physical violence may only be one of those. Regardless of whether an abused partner may be able to fight back during a particular incident they are still experiencing domestic violence.

Myth: The drugs make him/her violent.
Fact: It’s true that some drugs (especially amphetamines) may trigger violent or aggressive behaviour in some individuals. If the violent person lashes out at anyone who may cross their path and this is a one off or (very) infrequent occurrence then the violence may be drug related.

However, if the person uses the drugs knowing they may become violent or the violence is targeted towards their partner (or their partner’s friends) then this is domestic violence and they are responsible for their actions.

An abusive partner will often try to minimise the violence or deny their responsibility for it. Blaming the drugs (or alcohol) may be one way of doing this.

Someone who is violent before they use drugs or alcohol is likely to become more violent after using drugs or alcohol. It is advisable for their partner to take extra precautions if they do start to use drugs or alcohol.

Myth: The law can’t help me and the police aren’t interested.
Fact: Threats, stalking and physical and sexual violence are all illegal. The law in NSW offers the same protection to same sex victims of domestic violence as it does to heterosexual victims - including police protection and access to Apprehended Violence Orders. It also allows for division of joint property after two years of living together.

The police have a responsibility to provide assistance and protection to anyone in NSW experiencing illegal forms of domestic violence - regardless of their sexuality. If someone feels the police or other legal service response hasn’t been adequate or appropriate they have the right to make a complaint.

Myth: I won’t be able to meet any other gay or lesbian people.
Fact: One form of abuse is social isolation. Some people worry that if they leave their abusive partner they will end up isolated and alone. This is especially true for people in their first same sex relationship. But there are many community groups that can help people make connections with other gay men or lesbians. (The Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service has an extensive list of gay and lesbian support and social groups. Phone 8594 9596 or 1800 184 527)

Myth: Bondage and Discipline or Sadomasochism (BDSM) is about power and control. That means the submissive partner is being abused.
Fact: BDSM is a negotiated sexual activity that may involve hitting, slapping, pain, coercion, or dominance. Some people may adopt long term roles of dominance or submission. These are conscious and consensual activities where all parties agree to their roles as well as the time and place for a particular scene. In a domestic violence situation the abused partner does not consent to the abusive activities.