Resources for LGBTQ People & Allies
“LGBTQ” stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer”. Sometimes a “2” for “two-spirit”, “I” for “intersex”, another “Q” for “questioning” and an “A” for “ally” (meaning someone who does not identify as, but is supportive of, any of the categories above) are added to the acronym.
Recent research consistently suggests that abuse in same-sex couples occurs with roughly the same frequency as it does for heterosexual couples.
- Abuse is a pattern of verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual behaviours used by one person in order to gain power and control over another person. When you are being abused you may feel afraid, worthless and helpless.
- While some people who experience abuse fight back, abuse is never mutual. Interpersonal violence happens in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and straight communities and affects people of all ethnic backgrounds, ages, ability levels, religion, and marital and employment statuses.
- Not all abusers are male—people of all gender identities can abuse their partners.
- An individual’s size and strength, as well as their gender expression and personality, do not determine whether they could be a victim or a perpetrator of interpersonal violence.
Interpersonal violence in the LGBTQ community and in the heterosexual community have many similarities, such as:
- While the abuse is always the fault of the perpetrator, victims are often blamed or can feel blamed.
- Abusers often try to isolate their partners, making it very difficult for the victimized partner to leave.
- Interpersonal violence follows a cyclical pattern (the Cycle of Violence), where things often get better briefly (the “honeymoon phase”) after an explosion. Over time, the severity and frequency of the violence increases. The goal of this cycle is to gain power and control over the partner. It is the abusive partner’s cycle of behaviour – not the relationship’s cycle.
- Victims may experience: social withdrawal; lack of confidence; low self-esteem; anxiety; depression; physical injuries; short and long-term health problems; sleep disturbances; feelings of shame, self-blame, hopelessness, and being constantly on guard; as well as post-traumatic stress symptoms.
Unique circumstances for LGBTQ individuals who experience violence include:
- People from the LGBTQ community are less likely to use resources (e.g. shelters, medical services, etc.) because they are afraid of re-victimization, being “outed”, and/or having to dealing with a homophobic reaction.
- Limited services exist specifically for abused and abusive LGBTQ people.
- Women’s shelters are open to all women and therefore, a lesbian woman may worry that her abuser will try access the same shelter.
- There may be additional fears of losing the relationship, which confirms one’ sexual orientation; fears of not being believed about the abuse and fears of losing friends and support within the LGBTQ community.
- Isolation after leaving a relationship can be greater if the victim has been shunned by family and friends because of their sexual orientation.
- Some people may fear that acknowledging same-sex domestic violence could reinforce homophobia and negative stereotypes about the LGBTQ community.
The extent of violence against transgender people is not well-recorded for several reasons:
- Reporting focuses on violence between adults so that reporting of violence directed towards transgender youth is underreported.
- Reporting focuses on interpersonal violence so there is little consideration of institutional or systemic violence.
- Transgender people’s willingness or ability to report violence is affected by the fact that police and emergency medical services have been violent towards transgender people, particularly sex trade workers and prisoners.
- Gendered anti-violence organizations may be inaccessible to transgender people because of uncertainty about whether these organizations will provide service to transgender people.
- Violence against transgender people is not listed separately – it is often simply included under the umbrella of lesbian, gay, or bisexual. There is not a distinction between homophobic and transphobic violence.
- Violence against the loved ones of transgender people is often not acknowledged.
- Reporting doesn’t consider the multiple reasons for violence, such as gender, race and class.
- Hate crimes are the most commonly tracked form of violence against transgender people. Transgender victims more frequently knew the perpetrator of hate crimes, unlike other hate crimes where the perpetrator is usually a stranger.
- The Gender, Violence and Resource Access Survey of transgender and intersex survivors conducted in Oregon in 1998 reported that: 50% of respondents had been raped or assaulted by a romantic partner, although only 62% of them identified themselves as survivors of domestic violence.
- The Transgender Sexual Violence project conducted by FORGE in 2009 found that: 29% of respondents had been sexually assaulted by an intimate partner; and 40% had been assaulted by a family member.
- 98% of hate crimes in an American study were against people in the male to female spectrum.
- Spousal violence victims who self-identified as either gay or lesbian reported experiencing spousal violence at more than twice the rate of heterosexuals. People who stated they were bisexual reported experiencing spousal violence at 4 times the rate of heterosexuals.
- Survey data from Toronto, Calgary and Fredericton found that the transgender people experienced verbal assaults, threats of physical assault, being chased and followed and sexual harassment. The authors reported that,
- “Across Canadian studies, transgendered participants experienced higher percentages of sexual harassment compared to lesbian, bi-sexual and heterosexual women” (Faulkner, 2006).
Are you experiencing interpersonal violence? Or, are you wondering if what is going on in your relationship is abuse? To read the warning signs of abuse, visit our Information for Survivors Page.
Worried that someone you know might be a victim of interpersonal violence? Visit our Information for Families & Friends Page.
Where to Get Help
Shelter services are available only to women, but men may call the shelters for telephone counselling (available 24 hrs/day). Counselling and support centres offer services to both men and women.
To find a list of shelters and services in your community, please visit our Find Services Near You Page.
- Avenue Community Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity. Woman to Woman Abuse Awareness Workshop Manual. Retrieved 2011 from www.avenuecommunitycentre.ca/pdf/W2W%20Workshop%20Manual1.pdf
- Brennan, S.& in Perreault, S. (2010). Criminal victimization in Canada, 2009. Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile (Statistics Canada).
- Faulkner, E. (2006). Homophobic Sexist Violence in Canada: Trends in the Experiences of Lesbian and Bisexual Women in Canada. Canadian Woman Studies, 5(1,2), 157.
- Goldberg, J. & White, C. (2006). Expanding Our Understanding of Gendered Violence: Violence Against Trans People and Their Loved Ones. Canadian Woman Studies, 25(1,2), 124- 127.
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (2011). Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Retrieved 2011 from http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/ntds
- Tesch, B., Bekerian, D., English, P., & Harrington, E. (2010). Same-sex Domestic Violence: Why Victims Are More at Risk. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 12(4), 526- 535.