I'm LGBTIQ and experiencing domestic violence
On this page:
- The different types of abuse
- Relationship checklist
- Factors unique to LGBTIQ relationships
- What you can do
- Helpful resources
If you identify as LGBTIQ and are experiencing domestic or family violence, it's important to know that you are not alone and can get help.
Domestic and family violence can happen in any type of relationship or intimate partnership: lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, monogamous, open, polyamorous, dating, long-term, living together or not living together, even long distance. It can happen to people who identify as transgender, gender-diverse, intersex, queer, sistergirl, brotherboy or cisgender,
Domestic and family violence is never the fault of the person being abused or controlled. It's the responsibility of the person misusing power and control to stop their abusive behaviour.
The different types of abuse
Domestic and family violence is any type of abusive behaviour used to gain and maintain control over another. There are different types of domestic and family violence including:
- emotional or psychological abuse
- social abuse
- stalking and harassment
- financial abuse
- physical abuse
- sexual abuse
Another Closet has examples of what these types of abuse look like in an LGBTIQ relationship – it's under the heading 'Types of Abuse'.
Take this Relationship Checklist from Another Closet to assess whether or not you're in an abusive relationship.
- change your behaviour or your appearance so your partner doesn’t get angry?
- avoid talking about money or other topics?
- feel scared, anxious or like you are ‘walking on eggshells’?
- cut yourself off from your friends, family or the LGBTIQ community?
Does your partner (or ex-partner):
- humiliate you, call you names or make fun of you or your body in a way that is designed to hurt or control you?
- threaten to ‘out’ your sexuality, gender (identity, expression or history) or intersex status to your friends, family or work?
- threaten to 'out' your health status (such as HIV status)?
- prevent you from attending LGBTIQ events or venues?
- have sudden outbursts of anger?
- act over-protective or become jealous for no reason?
- prevent you from seeing friends or family or make it very difficult?
- control your money against your will?
- monitor, harass or stalk you through social media?
- threaten you with violence or hit you, kick you or throw things at you?
- slap, push or shove you, or otherwise physically intimidate or hurt you?
- physically or emotionally hurt your children or family members?
- harm, or threaten to harm, your pets?
- force you to engage in sexual acts that you don’t want to do?
- lock you in the house or make it difficult for you to leave?
- control your access to your medication (including hormones) or prevent you from taking your medication?
- monitor your text messages, email or phone calls?
- convince you to doubt your own judgement or memory of events?
- pressure you to act more or look more “male” or more “female”?
- insist that you must have medical treatment to appear more “male” or “female” or pressure you to conform to a particular gender stereotype?
- tell you that this is just the way LGBTIQ relationships are or that domestic violence doesn’t exist in LGBTIQ relationships?
- pressure you to have surgery to “normalise” your body, sex organs or physical appearance?
If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, you may be experiencing domestic and family violence.
Factors unique to LGBTIQ relationships
There are aspects of abuse that are unique to the LGBTIQ community, including:
- Young LGBTIQ people are more likely to experience abuse in the family, often as a result of their gender and sexuality.
- Culture and religion is often used to justify violence against LGBTIQ people, even when that person is in the same family.
- The use of ‘outing’ as a means of asserting power and control if the abused partner is not ‘out’ to their friends, family or colleagues.
- The association of experiences of violence with sexuality or gender identity rather than the relationship. So the need to act more 'male' or 'female' or 'straight' or 'gay'.
- The relatively small size of LGBTIQ communities, especially in smaller cities and rural areas, can make it difficult to get help and support.
- An abusive partner may isolate the other from support options including contact with their community, attending venues or events or preventing them from seeing friends or family. Or the fear the abusive partner may try to turn others in their community against them.
- Support services may not be aware of the needs of, or be prepared for working with, people who are LGBTIQ.
Read more about these factors:
What you can do
If you or someone else has been assaulted or scared you might be, call Police - Emergency on 000
If you are experiencing domestic and family violence, here's what you can do:
- Create a safety plan
- Talk to someone you trust
- Get help from a support service
- Report it to Police
- Apply for an AVO
1. Create a safety plan
A safety plan is thinking about how to stay safe while in a violent or abusive relationship, or it could be a plan on how to leave the relationship. Read about how to make a safety plan on the Say it Out Loud and Another Closet websites.
2.Talk to someone you trust
You may be feeling scared, angry, alone, confused, ashamed and overwhelmed. Remember that your partner's violence is not your fault. They may not want you to talk to other people, but you shouldn't keep quiet.
Speaking to someone about it is brave. Staying silent may put you (and your children) at more risk of harm. Try reaching out to a trusted friend, family member, coworker or doctor. Make sure it's someone you trust and won't judge you.
3. Get help from a support service
It's good to confide in someone you trust about what's going on, but it's also important to talk to a trained counsellor from a support service. They will listen to you without blame or judgement and can give you information and referrals. Here are some support services you can call:
4. Report it to police
You can report domestic and family violence to Police. The NSW Police Force Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs) are specially trained to address LGBTIQ issues and have served the LGBTQI communities for more than 25 years. There are also Domestic Violence Liaison Officers (DVLOs) who are specially trained to provide support. They are located in many police stations across NSW.
GLLOs and DVLOs may not be available 24/7 but other police officers are. Remember that all police officers are trained in treating everyone equally and should not show any discrimination when helping you.
5. Apply for an AVO
An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) is an order made by a court against a person, such as a current or former partner, who makes you fear for your safety. This is to protection you from further violence, intimidation or harassment.
The laws for applying for an apprehended violence order (AVO) apply for LGBTQI people as they do for anyone else. In 2008, the Australian Government made change to laws that entitle same-sex de facto couples the same benefits, obligations and protections as opposite-sex couples.
The website 1800RESPECT has lots of helpful information including:
- Safety planning
- Safety planning checklist
- Keeping a record: Collecting Evidence
- Find services in your area
ACON is a community based LGBTI health and HIV/AIDS organisation. ACON has a range of services that may be appropriate for people experiencing domestic violence such as information, referral, counselling or support. ACON services also include an Anti-Violence Project, Aboriginal project, a Same Sex Attracted Womens Project, an Alcohol and other Drugs Project, HIV services and a range of services for gay men.
Say It Out loud
The Say it Out Loud site has helpful articles about healthy and unhealthy relationships in the LGBTQI community.
Another Closet provides information, tips, personal stories and training notes about domestic and family violence in LGBTIQ relationships.
Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII)
Organisation Intersex International Australia offers support and information for people who are intersex in Australia.
The Gender Centre Inc.
The Gender Centre offers a range of services for transgender and gender diverse people, their partners, families and friends in NSW. These supports include counselling, case management, accommodation, resources, training and workshops.The Gender Centre is located in Annandale, NSW.
Inner City Legal Centre
A non-profit community based legal centre providing free legal services, information, referrals and telephone advice for the LGBTQI community. Initial legal advice is given by appointment on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Inner City Legal Centre
Monday, Thursday, Friday 9am - 5pm
Tuesday, Wednesday 9am - 8pm
Closed 1pm - 2pm every day
Phone: (02) 9332 1966
SMS: 0466 724 979
Toll free: 1800 244 481
Address: Basement, Kings Cross Library, Neighborhood Centre
50-52 Darlinhurst Road, Kings Cross NSW 2011
The Safe Relationships Project at the Inner City Legal Centre
The Safe Relationships Project offers domestic violence court assistance and support for people who are in same-sex relationships, transgender, transsexual or intersex. They offer help with applying for Apprehended Violence Orders, referrals for counselling and housing, and advice on family law and compensation for victims.
Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW is a community-based, non-profit, state-wide organisation, working with and supporting people of diverse genders, sexes and sexualities, their families and communities. There is a specialised youth support service for people aged 12 to 26, and a specialised service for everyone else aged 18 or over.