top of page

Domestic Violence &

The LGBTQ+ Community

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behaviors utilized by one partner (the batterer or abuser) to exert and maintain control over another person (the survivor or victim) where there exists an intimate and/or dependent relationship.


Gay Teens

Experts believe that domestic violence occurs in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community with the same amount of frequency and severity as in the heterosexual community. Society’s long history of entrenched racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia prevents LGBT victims of domestic violence from seeking help from the police, legal and court systems for fear of discrimination or bias.


  • Gay and bisexual men experience abuse in intimate partner relationships at a rate of 2 in 5, which is comparable to the amount of domestic violence experienced by heterosexual women. 

  • Approximately 50% of the lesbian population has experienced or will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.

  • In one year, 44% of victims in LGBT domestic violence cases identified as men, while 36% identified as women.

  • 78% of lesbians report that they have either defended themselves or fought back against an abusive partner.

  • 18% of this group described their behavior as self-defense or “trading blow for blow or insult for insult.”

Types of Abuse

  • Physical: the threat of harm or any forceful physical behavior that intentionally or accidentally causes bodily harm or property destruction.

  • Sexual: any forced or coerced sexual act or behavior motivated to acquire power and control over the partner. It is not only forced sexual contact but also contact that demeans or humiliates the partner and instigates feelings of shame or vulnerability – particularly in regards to the body, sexual performance or sexuality.

  • Emotional/Verbal: any use of words, voice, action or lack of action meant to control, hurt or demean another person. Emotional abuse typically includes ridicule, intimidation or coercion.

  • Financial: the use or misuse, without the victim’s consent, of the financial or other monetary resources of the partner or of the relationship.

  • Identity Abuse: using personal characteristics to demean, manipulate and control the partner. Some of these tactics overlap with other forms of abuse, particularly emotional abuse. This category is comprised of the social “isms”, including racism, sexism, ageism, able-ism, beauty-ism, as well as homophobia. Includes threats to “out” victim. 

Specific Abuse in Transgender Relationships

Specific forms of abuse occur in relationships where one partner is transgender, including:

  • Using offensive pronouns such as “it” to refer to the transgender partner;

  • Ridiculing the transgender partner’s body and/or appearance;

  • Telling the transgender partner that he or she is not a real man or woman;

  • Ridiculing the transgender partner’s identity as “bisexual,” “trans,” “femme,” “butch,” “gender queer,” etc.;

  • Denying the transgender partner’s access to medical treatment or hormones or coercing him or her to not

  • pursue medical treatment. 

Barriers In Reporting

Barriers to addressing LGBT intimate partner violence (both for service providers and survivors) include:
• The belief that domestic violence does not occur in LGBT relationships and/or is a gender based issue;
• Societal anti-LGBT bias (homophobia, biphobia and transphobia);
• Lack of appropriate training regarding LGBT domestic violence for service providers;
• A fear that airing of the problems among the LGBT population will take away from progress toward equality or fuel anti-LGBT bias.
• Domestic violence shelters are typically female only, thus transgender people may not be allowed entrance into shelters or emergency facilities due to their gender/genital/legal status. 

What do I do Next?

Wesley Shelter is dedicated to providing the answers and support you need. We can help you navigate through the services and support that you need to begin the healing process.


Call our main crisis line at 252-291-2344 and speak to a victim advocate. All calls are free and confidential. 

For a national list of safe places near you and additional information on how to be safe, get help and be smart, please visit

Get Help

We are here when you need us.

Help a Friend

Learn more about supporting a friend

bottom of page