The LGBTQIA+ community in the U.S. faces many issues, including a rise in horrific hate crimes in many cities. But there’s an issue within our community that we rarely talk about: domestic violence. And we should talk about it because several groups within the LGBTQIA+ community experience domestic violence at an alarming rate when compared to people in heterosexual relationships. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we’re shedding a light on important facts about abuse within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Domestic Violence Is Just As High In The Queer Community
It’s a common misconception that domestic violence is more common for straight couples. Often times, the stereotype or image we have of an abuser is a straight, cisgender man and the abuse is physical. But intimate partner violence (IPV) which can include physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender expression. And for some in the queer community IPV occurs at a much higher rate than in straight couples.
According to the CDC, 44 percent of lesbian women and 61 percent of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime compared to only 35 percent of heterosexual women. And compared to 29 percent of heterosexual men, 26 percent of gay men and 37 percent of bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. This isn’t always behind closed doors either. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, transgender victims are more likely to experience intimate partner violence in public, compared to those who do not identify as transgender.
So, why are the numbers so high? One piece to the puzzle is that many LGBTQIA+ people are not out publicly. By reporting or drawing attention to abuse with a partner they could out themselves to others. And compared to heterosexual people, LGBTQIA+ people may not have a support system in place and may feel like they have nowhere to go to escape the violence. Today, it’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of LGBTQ+ youth have experienced homelessness or are currently homeless.
Bisexual Women Face More Abuse Than Other Queer Women
Some say the “B” in LGBT is silent because bisexual people are so often stigmatized — even within the queer community. Bisexual, pansexual and other indentities under the bi-umbrella, are often not validated from other lesbian and gay members within the community, yet they are not immune to domestic violence and. the stats are heartbreaking. According to the Joyful Heart Foundation, 46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of heterosexual women and 13 percent of lesbians or gay women. Sexual-related violence is just as high for bisexual men. According to the CDC, 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime compared to 21 percent of heterosexual men.
Transgender Women Face The Most Domestic Abuse
The LGBTQIA+ community is marginalized, but it also intersects with other marginalized groups. Black transgender women are often the most overlooked people in both the Black community and the LGBTQIA+ community. And that’s a problem because Black transgender women incur the most hate crimes among the LGBTQIA+ community, and they also experience some of the highest rates of domestic violence. According to 2017 and 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey, 86 percent of transgender women experienced violent victimization compared to 23 percent of cis-gender women and only about half of the domestic abuse cases against trans people were reported to the police.
How To Get Out And How To Help
No one should ever have to experience domestic violence, including because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. If you’re experiencing abuse with your partner or you know someone who is being abused, there is so much love and support and help out there. The LGBT National Help Center is one phone call away at 1-888-843-4564. And the free National Domestic Violence Hotline is available via phone, chat and text 24/7 and in over 200 languages. It’s always free and it’s always confidential. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788. You can also chat online at www.thehotline.org.