Some people believe that women are not likely to abuse each other. But experts believe that violence may happen more often in same-sex relationships.
A woman in a same-sex relationship who experiences dating violence or domestic violence may face many of the same issues as an abused heterosexual woman. Her partner may hit her, try to control her, or force her to have sex. A woman in a same-sex relationship may also face additional issues, including:
- Fear of being “outed” as gay
- Thinking that you have to be married to be considered a victim of domestic abuse
- Concern that people who should help will instead be anti-gay
No one deserves to be mistreated. There are ways you can get help. You can:
- Call a domestic violence shelter. Ask what services your local shelter offers lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) clients. If you’re not satisfied with the answer, you can call a shelter in the nearest large city. If there is no LGBT-friendly shelter nearby, you can still go to a shelter. You can keep private that you are in a same-sex relationship if you want.
- Call a hotline designed to help LGBT victims of violence. You can call the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs at 212-714-1141 for 24-hour assistance in English or Spanish.
- Ask about getting a court order of protection. This order can require that your partner stay away from you and any children. Learn more about how to get a court order of protection.
- Look for an antiviolence program. These programs work specifically with LGBT survivors of domestic abuse and hate violence. You can ask shelter staff for help finding a program or look at a list of programs in certain areas.
- Get legal help if you need it. There are laws that protect people who are abused and laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Shelters can help you find lawyers who work for free if you can’t afford to pay. Lambda Legal offers help on legal issues related to sexual orientation.
- Learn more about leaving an abusive relationship. Read about making a safety plan.
Sometimes, people are hurt because they are LGBT or because someone thinks they are. Crimes that LGBT people may experience include harassment, stalking, and sexual violence. Hurting someone because of that person’s gender or sexual orientation is always wrong. It also may be a federal hate crime with extra punishments.
Other publications and websites
- Dating Violence in LGBTQ Communities (Copyright © Brown University) – This fact sheet discusses the differences between violence experienced in LGBTQ relationships and straight relationships. It also gives advice about what to do if you are being abused, what the abuser can do, and how to help a friend who is being abused.
- Domestic Violence and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Relationships (Copyright © National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) – This fact sheet talks about the statistics of domestic violence in LGBT relationships, types of abuse, and barriers to seeking services.
- General and Internet Safe Dating Tips (Copyright © National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs) – This publication offers safety tips for gay, lesbian, and transgender people who date online.
- Power and Control Wheel for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Relationships (Copyright © Texas Council on Family Violence) – This wheel helps people identify if they are experiencing relationship abuse.
Connect with other organizations
- Futures Without Violence
- National Center for Victims of Crime
- National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women
- New York City Anti-Violence Project
- The Network/La Red
- Women’s Heath, (2015), “Same-Sex Relationship Violence.” Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/types-of-violence/same-sex-relationship-violence.html
- Office on Women’s Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services