June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate and take pride in the LGBTQ+ community. It is a time to embrace the diverse orientations and identities that exist in our world and honor the people who struggled throughout history to get us here. And as we commemorate “love is love,” we must also acknowledge the difference between healthy and unhealthy love.
In other words, as we reflect this month on the diversity of love, we can’t forget that one of the only studies on LGBTQ+ teens and dating violence, released by the Urban Institute in 2013, showed significantly higher rates of dating violence among LGB youth than among non-LGB youth.
When we think of dating violence, we often only see it through the lens of a heterosexual couple, specifically a woman being abused by a man. The reality, however, is that LGBTQ+ couples also experience dating violence and it often manifests itself differently than in heterosexual couples, thus there are specific challenges when accessing services.
This June, let’s not only celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, but also educate ourselves about the troubling rates of intimate partner violence within the LGBTQ+ community, so that we can one day end dating violence.
"She thought about seeking help but wondered how she would explain the abuse. “I’m dating a woman and she’s half my size, and I’m thinking, who’s going to believe me?” she says. “If I was dating a guy, it would be different. There’s a cultural sense of what violence in a straight relationship is like, but there’s no cultural blueprint for dealing with abuse between two women." - Anonymous, excerpt from “Why It's So Hard to Talk About Domestic Abuse in LGBTQ Relationships”
"Apart from my massive social withdrawal, the effect on my sexuality was really destructive. I became ashamed about being gay, about being sexually attractive and about having sexual desires. It was like going back in the closet." - David, 27, excerpt from “Tales From Another Closet: Personal Stories of Domestic Violence in Same-Sex Relationships”
"I think these situations have taught me to be hyper vigilant for signs of manipulation and abuse in any interpersonal exchanges…. They have also made me aware that we need a culture that supports the development of women/lesbians with a robust sense of self, a strong sense of self-respect and a sense of their right for non-coercive, non-violent relationships. We also need legal systems, health services and personnel that are well promoted and well equipped to deal with same-sex domestic violence." - Ruth, 48, excerpt from “Tales From Another Closet: Personal Stories of Domestic Violence in Same-Sex Relationships”
"She said I was wasting my time with members of my family and friends as they didn’t understand me and didn’t trust us…. I was ashamed and afraid of what people would think." - Kim, 42, excerpt from “Tales From Another Closet: Personal Stories of Domestic Violence in Same-Sex Relationships”
If you or someone you know identifies with the LGBTQ+ community and is in need of support, know you are not alone. These services (and many more) are available:
Anti-Violence Project: counseling for LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence
Trans Lifeline: hotline for transgender persons in need of support