Abuse in LGBTQ Relationships

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) teens experience dating violence at the same rates and in similar ways as teens in straight relationships.1 The same types of abuse may be used to gain power and control.  However, abusers may use additional tactics that are specific to LGBTQ relationships.

The LGBTQ Power and Control Wheel is similar to the Teen Power and Control Wheel. It is a diagram that helps explain what occurs in abusive LGBTQ relationships.  We often don’t recognize these behaviors in our relationships because they can be subtle and feel normal; however, all of these behaviors are considered abusive.

The center of the wheel is surrounded by the different behaviors an abusive partner may use to gain power and control in the relationship.  Below the wheel are several examples of tactics used in LGBTQ relationships.  If you are not familiar with a word, click here for a list of LGBTQ definitions and terms.

The Teen Alert Program is inclusive of all sexual identities and orientations. TAP believes everyone deserves happy and healthy relationships and our services are inclusive to all teens.

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Power and Control tactics that are specific to LGBTQ abuse: 

Threaten to “out” partner or relationship

Example: Abuser threatens to tell family and/or friends about the relationship if their partner tries to leave them

Using looks, actions, gestures to reinforce homophobic, biphobic or transphobic control

Example: Abuser gives a threatening look in the cafeteria that implies they will “out” their partner if they talk to someone they aren't "supposed to"

 

Questioning if partner is a “real” lesbian, “real” man, “real” woman, “real” femme, “real” butch

Example: Abuser makes fun of their partner for not dressing “femme” or “butch” enough

Reinforcing internalized homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia

Example: Abuser uses their partner’s feelings of insecurity or religious beliefs against them.  For example, "I dare you to go to tell your parents we're together, their religion forbids it"

 

Accusing you of “mutual” abuse

Example: Abuser tells others that both people in the relationship are abusive, even though only partner is. This is done more often in LGBTQ relationships.

Saying women can’t abuse women/men can’t abuse men

Example: Abuser tells their partner that no one will believe them that they’re being abused since they’re the same sex

 

Using privilege or the ability to “pass” to discredit partner, put partner in danger, cut partner off from access to resources, or use the system against partner

Example: Abuser is able to “pass” as straight and uses this as another way to threaten and control their partner.  For example, if the abuser can pass as straight, people may treat him/her with less prejudice than their partner, or  they may assume they can't be the abusive partner.

 


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