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Speak up this May to Raise Awareness of LGBT Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse experienced by LGBT people often goes unrecognised and unsupported because of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Even when available services are supportive, and many in Scotland are, discrimination plays a role in how well individuals and those around them understand what is happening. It can also create barriers to seeking support. The 17th of May is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHoBiT) and is the perfect time to raise awareness of LGBT domestic abuse. This blog post will explore some of the barriers that LGBT people who experience domestic abuse face and information you can share to raise awareness.

Barriers Created by Abusive Partners or Ex-Partners

Partners and ex-partners who are abusive in LGBT relationships often use homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia as part of the abuse:

  • Directly undermining and individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Reinforcing past experiences of discrimination
  • Using stereotypes to uphold specific demands (such as particular sexual practices)
  • Drawing on the individual’s fear of discrimination from others to increase their isolation.

Internal Barriers

Individuals in abusive relationships may also face their own barriers that are rooted in homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia. This is particularly powerful when they do not see LGBT-inclusive images or information around them, or when their friends and family only understand and talk about domestic abuse as men’s violence against women. Even if someone identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, they can experience internalised homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia, as a result of the messages they’ve received around them that place cisgender and heterosexual relationships as ‘the standard for what is ‘normal’, or because of negative stereotypes they’ve seen or heard about LGBT people. This can make some LGBT people unhappy to be LGBT or affect how they interact with others in relation to being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In addition to internalised homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, previous experiences of discrimination can affect whether or not LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse seek support. Barriers to getting the right help include:

  • Not seeing LGBT identities reflected in the resources and websites of services, or even in public understandings of domestic abuse
  • Not feeling comfortable or safe coming out to a service and talking about the relationship
  • Fearing a negative response from a service, or having had a less than supportive experience in the past. 

How You Can Help

Simply talking with friends and family about the fact that LGBT can and do experience domestic abuse can help. It may help someone experiencing abuse right now, but who may not have recognised it or had the confidence to seek support. It may also help someone you know become aware of an abusive relationship in the future. We recommend sharing the following three messages:

  1. LGBT Domestic Abuse, like all domestic abuse, is only the fault of the abusive partner or ex-partner.
  2. There are support services available for LGBT people. See their contact details here. Many services have even achieved the LGBT Charter to demonstrate their commitment to LGBT-inclusion. You can see which support services have active awards on the LGBT Youth Scotland website. 
  3. Domestic Abuse can be reported. Find out how here

Visit our information section to find out more about LGBT domestic abuse.

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