There is a prevailing misconception that sexual violence does not affect those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. When intimate partner abuse is identified in these communities, it is quickly perceived as "mutual fighting" rather than what it is: abuse of one person by another. It is important that victims, survivors, family members, friends, religious leaders, employers, and community residents recognize that LGBTQ people also experience and survive sexual violence.
Furthermore, homophobia and transphobia are added barriers to LGBTQ survivors and can discourage many survivors from naming their experiences and accessing support services. These barriers may include: the prevailing myth that LGBTQ violence is mutual; fear of being "outed" to social service providers, police, judges, employers, family members, and friends; limited LGBTQ sensitive service providers; fear of further isolation; or fear of reinforcing negative stereotypes about the LGBTQ community.
Adapted from Practical Help: Guidelines for Taking Action, a brochure published by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Victims of Domestic Violence.
- Myth: Sexual assault and domestic violence do not occur in LGBTQ relationships.
Fact: Sexual assault is not always male on female. It does happen in the LGBTQ community; domestic violence and sexual assault in LGBTQ relationships are as frequent and as severe as in heterosexual relationships. Key dynamics about relationship violence (it's about power and control, it occurs in a cycle, it escalates over time) are true in all relationships. LGBTQ people can and do have healthy relationships. People abuse not because they are LGBTQ or heterosexual, but because they want to have power and control over another.
- Myth: The bigger, more masculine, or masculine-identified person is always the abusive partner in a domestic violence relationship.
Fact: Size, masculinity and femininity, and gender-identification are not the cause of abuse and do not determine who is the abusive partner. Sexual and domestic violence do not occur in butch/femme relationships more frequently.
- Myth: Sexual and domestic violence in LGBTQ relationships is "mutual"
Fact: In all relationships, both partners can have unhealthy behavior. However, in domestic violence relationships, mutual abuse is rare. Usually one partner is the clear abuser.