Anti-LGBTQ Bias: The Context for Intimate Partner Violence
When the external world is unsafe, LGBTQ individuals, like members of other oppressed groups, naturally turn to a community of others like themselves for support, friendship, and safety. Unfortunately though, if the outside world is identified as unsafe and the community is identified as safe, then acknowledging violence that happens within the community – partner abuse – becomes very difficult. When combined, all of these factors leave LGBTQ survivors without the tools to seek support.1
LGBTQ battering happens in the context of the individual and societal bias experienced by LGBTQ people on a daily basis. This anti-LGBTQ bias includes:
- Heterosexism – the socially shared belief that heterosexuality is normal and right, and that everyone should be, or would rather be, heterosexual.
- Stereotypes, such as:
- Lesbian and gay parents are not good for children.
- Transgender people are mentally ill.
- Bisexuality is just a phase.
- Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia – irrational fear, prejudice, aversion and contempt toward people who are LGBTQ. Negative behavior that stems from fear includes violence, incarceration, forced psychiatric treatment, refusal to hire, etc.
- Discrimination – Denial of equal treatment and civil rights by schools, government, business, religious organizations and service providers, in how they set policies, make laws, allocate resources, and determine behavioral norms.
- Heterocentric thinking – failure to even consider LGBTQ individuals, even when the individual or group doesn’t consciously intend to discriminate.
These forms of bias provide opportunities and tactics for LGBTQ abusers to control their partners. They help shape both the form that IPV takes in individual cases, and the experience of individual LGBTQ victims when they seek help.
Consider, for instance, what a gay man who is seeking help because his partner is abusing him might experience…
- The socially shared belief that heterosexuality is normal and right – His therapist suggests that if he was straight, he would not have been abused.
- Prejudices and stereotypes – A DV hotline worker who thinks of abusers as exclusively male refuses to talk with him when he calls.
- Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia – His partner threatens to out him to his employer.
- Discrimination – If he lives in a state without marriage equality, he lacks legal protections related to divorce and child custody.
- Heterocentric thinking – The DV program only has women-only support groups.
- The Network/La Red (2010). Open Minds, Open Doors: Transforming Domestic Violence Programs to Include LGBTQ Survivors, p.8.