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An Online Resource Library on Gender-Based Violence.

The Problem: DV in LGBTQ Communities & Barriers to Safety

lgbt-4.jpgAlthough the research community has historically overlooked the ways in which the LGBTQ communities experience domestic and sexual violence, recent literature is increasingly more inclusive and complete. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Study (NISVS)2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation, found that study participants who identified as either lesbian or gay reported domestic violence and sexual violence rates which were equal to or higher than study participants who identified as heterosexual. Additionally, the survey also found that bisexual women report a higher prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner compared to both lesbian and heterosexual women and bisexual men report a higher prevalence of rape physical violence, and or stalking than gay or heterosexual men. Studies such as the National Transgender Discrimination Survey and the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey have found that people who are transgender experience disproportionate rates of violence, particularly trans people of color.

The documents in this section explore the prevalence and dynamics of domestic violence in LGBTQ communities and barriers to accessing services.

Rates and Prevalence

The 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that sexual minority respondents reported levels of intimate partner violence at rates equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals:

  • Forty-four percent of lesbian women, 61% of bisexual women, and 35% of heterosexual women experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Twenty-six percent of gay men, 37% of bisexual men, and 29% of heterosexual men experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 bisexual women (22%) and nearly 1 in 10 heterosexual women (9%) have been raped by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that more than half (54%) of respondents experienced some form of intimate partner violence, including acts involving coercive control and physical harm. Additionally, nearly half (47%) of respondents were sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime and one in ten (10%) were sexually assaulted in the past year. In communities of color, these numbers are higher: 53% of Black respondents were sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 13% were sexually assaulted in the last year.

Dynamics of DV in LGBTQ Communities

“Domestic violence is framed as something about male/female relationships, derived from sexism, not from a larger framework of oppressions. I hear all the time, maybe queer relationship violence is there, but it can’t be as bad or frequent as in abusive straight relationships. Even if it is named, it is minimized.” —Survivor, Raising Our Voices: Queer Asian Women's Response to Relationship Violence

Barriers to Accessing Services