Domestic Violence in Same-Sex Relationships
The occurrence and severity of domestic violence in heterosexual relationships has shocked the public for many years. Although many studies were conducted about the effects of domestic violence, these studies did not include violence in same-sex relationships. The anti-domestic violence movement focused almost exclusively on the abuse of heterosexual women. Therefore, until recently, battering and abuse in same-sex relationships had been a largely hidden and unaddressed issue. However, surveys and studies suggest that domestic violence is a major health threat to gay men and lesbians today.
Comparing Homosexual and Heterosexual Violence
Abuse in gay and lesbian relationships has many things in common with heterosexual abuse. While there hasn't been enough research on the topic, it appears that the frequency and severity of domestic violence in homosexual couples is comparable to that of heterosexual couples (Peterman & Dixon, 2003). Violence also appears to escalate and gain in severity over time in all domestic violence cases (Seelau, Seelau, & Poorman, 2003).
However, there are also differences between homosexual and heterosexual couples. According to Millner, Bobner, & Zarski (2000), same-sex couples are more alike in strength and size. They are also more likely to switch roles, with the victim becoming the batterer. Additionally, it is estimated that 95% of abusers are male. Therefore, gay male couples may have a higher incident of domestic violence because the likelihood of becoming an abuser is the same for each person in the relationship. Lobel (as cited in Peterman & Dixon, 2003) reports that lesbians are more likely to fight back than their female heterosexual counterparts.
Services Available to Victims of Same-Sex Domestic Violence
Victims and abusers of same-sex domestic violence face special barriers in obtaining services from organizations and professionals. Little to no help is available to homosexual couples from a...