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Violence and abuse in LGBTQ relationships are common
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Violence and abuse in LGBTQ relationships are common

by adminNovember 17, 2014

Violence and abuse in LGBTQ relationships are common

But it’s harder to spot

Adapted from a story by The Washington Post’s Julia Carpenter.

When one survey asked LGBTQ victims of intimate-partner violence “where do you seek help?,” the most common answer was: Nowhere.

LGBTQ victims don’t fit the stereotypes of domestic abuse. They’re not straight, feminine-looking women abused by masculine-looking men.

Violence occurs in the LGBTQ community at about the same rate as among heterosexual individuals, according to a 2010 study from the Centers for Disease Control.

“My No.1 concern is that people don’t recognize that it’s happening all around them,” says Adam M. Messinger, author of “LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence: Lessons for Policy, Practice and Research.” “Silence on the issue I just don’t think is an option.”

The realization that LGBTQ violence in general is as common — or more — than heterosexual violence motivated Messinger to research thousands of databases, journal articles and more to find out as much as he could. He then distilled this information into evidence-based tips that are much more accessible for the people who need it most: survivors; their attorneys; and those who work at shelters for victims of intimate-partner violence.

Here are Messinger’s tips to help LGBTQ victims of domestic violence:

  • Make victims feel welcome with more inclusive language.
  • Take their cases as seriously as providers would an abuse case involving heterosexual partners.
  • Contribute to the research, so that there is more evidence for professionals and policy makers to reference.

Many queer people are often distanced from their families and friends due to prejudice, so less people in their immediate circle are looking out for possible signs of distress.

Because they’re not always accepted, many LGBTQ people want their relationships to seem “picture-perfect.” When they’re already handling so much criticism from outside the relationship, there’s a pressure to hide anything negative.

In the course of writing his book, Messinger tackled several stereotypes surrounding intimate-partner violence. Mostly, he wanted to dismantle the idea that abuse in an LGBTQ relationships looks just like it might in a heterosexual one. That, Messinger says, is the biggest obstacle to overcome. As more agencies and service providers open their doors to LGBTQ victims, very few are adjusting their services to treat these survivors differently.

“‘We’re not going to treat you any differently’ on the surface sounds great — it’s an anti-discrimination approach and I appreciate that,” Messinger says. “But it also oftentimes leads to services that are just ill-fitting.”

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