Unique aspects of same sex domestic violence

Domestic violence in same sex and heterosexual relationships share many similarities, including the types of abuse and the impact on the abused partner. However, there are a number of aspects that are unique to same sex domestic violence. These include:

‘Outing’ as a method of control

If the abused partner isn’t out to their family, friends, and workmates or within
their cultural community the abusive partner may use ‘outing’ or the threat of
‘outing’ as a method of control.

Domestic violence isn’t well understood in the community

There hasn’t been much information or discussion in the gay and lesbian
communities about domestic violence in relationships. Most information on
domestic violence relates to heterosexual relationships with the man as the perpetrator. This lack of understanding means that some people may not:

  • Believe it happens in same sex relationships;
  • Recognise abuse as domestic violence if it does happen to them and/or
  • Know how to respond if they see domestic violence in their friend’s or family members’ relationships.

Confidentiality and isolation within the gay and lesbian communities

The relatively small size of the gay and lesbian communities, especially in
smaller cities and rural areas, can make it difficult for the abused partner to
seek help. They may feel embarrassed about the abuse or their partner may
have tried to turn others in the community against them. An abusive partner
may isolate the other from contact with the gay and lesbian community by
preventing them reading the community media, attending events or seeing their friends. This is especially true for people in their first same-sex relationship
who may not have had much contact with the community before the relationship began.

Services may not be well developed

Although women can access most general domestic violence services, like
refuges, court assistance schemes, and counselling services, these services
may have little experience in working with same sex domestic violence and
therefore, may not offer the most appropriate service. For gay men there are
currently few specific services that offer assistance or support. The Same-Sex Domestic Violence Interagency and other organisations are working to address this issue.