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Domestic violence in female same-sex relationships

When many Texas residents think about domestic violence, they imagine that men are the abusers. While men do commit domestic violence in heterosexual and same-sex relationships, women who are in same-sex relationships are not immune to abuse.

Lesbian and bisexual women are at an increased risk of experiencing domestic violence, likely because of those assumptions: 43% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. By comparison, 35% of heterosexual women have experienced the same.  

What does domestic violence look like?

Common types of domestic violence may include:

  • Physical violence
  • Threats or intimidation
  • Verbal harassment
  • Sexual violence

However, domestic violence in same-sex relationships can include types of abuses unique to those relationships. These can include:

  • “Outing” a partner’s sexual orientation or gender identity, or threatening to “out” them to family, friends, employers and more
  • Saying no one will help the victim because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Claiming the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity make them “deserving” of abuse
  • Justifying the abuse by minimizing the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity (for example, claiming a partner is not “really” lesbian)
  • Manipulating a victim’s friends and family supports, possibly even generating sympathy and trust, to cut off those resources to the victim
  • Portraying the violence as mutual or even consensual
  • Justifying the violence as an expression of masculinity or other “desirable” traits

Women in same-sex relationships may be less likely to seek help or may face unique barriers to resources due to fear of discrimination or bias, but no one deserves to stay in an unhealthy relationship. Women who believe they are in an abusive same-sex relationship should reach out for support and assistance.

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