Domestic violence occurs just as often between same-sex couples — and perhaps even more often — compared with different-sex couples, according to new research.
Scientists from Northwestern University analyzed many previous studies on domestic violence all together to find that domestic violence affects anywhere from 25% to 75% of LGBT individuals. But they have reason to believe the numbers may be even higher.
“Evidence suggests that the minority stress model may explain these high prevalence rates,” said senior author Richard Carroll, associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a psychologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Domestic violence is exacerbated because same-sex couples are dealing with the additional stress of being a sexual minority. This leads to reluctance to address domestic violence issues.” …
“There has been a lot of research on domestic violence but it hasn’t looked as carefully at the subgroup of same-sex couples,” Carroll said. “Another obstacle is getting the appropriate samples because of the stigma that has been attached to sexual orientation. In the past, individuals were reluctant to talk about it.”
Of the research that has examined same-sex domestic violence, most has concentrated on lesbians rather than gay men and bisexuals.
“Men may not want to see themselves as the victim, to present themselves as un-masculine and unable to defend themselves,” Carroll said.
As many other health studies on LGBT populations have found, LGBT individuals may also be less likely to seek help for domestic abuse because of the stigma they face in their relationships. It’s more clear than ever that change is needed all around — more knowledgeable and affirming healthcare professionals, more awareness of the severity of the problem, and a commitment to solving it.