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Myths and Stereotypes on Abuse in same-sex relationships

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

Hello to all my lovely readers and new comers,

This month I touch on the subject of abuse, in a community that still is a grey area to many people. In our modern lives we have formed friendships with people of different backgrounds and it’s our duty as good friends to educate ourselves.

The myths and stereotypes about same-sex partnerships, minimise experiences that people in the LGBT community have had with abuse, which makes it difficult for the victims to seek help.

Some of the more common myths:

Abuse doesn’t happen in same-sex relationships.

Abuse in same-sex relationships is not as serious as heterosexual abuse.

Abuse in same-sex relationships is “mutual”.

Abuse is about size and strength: for example,

A gay male victim will be smaller or more effeminate and abusive lesbians will be more masculine.

Women can’t perpetrate violence.

Gay men can more easily protect themselves.

Abuse happens no matter what sexuality you are and abusers and victims come from all cultures, all sexual orientations, all gender identities, all ages and beliefs.

There is no reason to assume that gay men and lesbians are less violent than heterosexual men and women. A UK report suggests there is a similar, if not higher abuse rate, between same sex couples. Transgender individuals may be at higher risk, as research demonstrates 80% of transgender people have experienced emotional, sexual or physical abuse by a partner or former partner.

Abuse in a same-sex partnership is not a “cat fight” between two women or “boys being boys” with two men. Being with someone of your own sex doesn’t guarantee equality and there is nothing equal, fair or mutual about abuse. Abuse is about controlling a person using threating, manipulative language and behaviour. Abused partners may fight back, but again there is a clear difference between violent resistance and abuse. Dismissing partner abuse as a “lovers quarrel” trivializes the abuse and allows it to continue.

Because of gender stereotype, many believe that a woman abuser is more likely to use emotional tactics rather than physical. Women can use many of the same tactics as men, such as pushing, hitting, beating, raping and sometimes even killing their partner. There is no reason to take female abusers less seriously.

Sexual violence does happen in same-sex relationships

Sexual abuse in same-sex relationships can be as severe as heterosexual couples and can include:

Unwanted advances

Unwanted sexual contact


Forcing sex

Intentional exposure to HIV or sexually transmitted infection

Withholding sex in order to control the partner

LGBT victims may deal with the added shame of being targeted by someone in their own community. They may also minimise the sexual abuse they experienced, because of stereotypes that women cannot be rapists and that men cannot be raped.

There is also no evidence that the absence of children, makes leaving an abusive partner easier. It may have more to do with a lack of support from social circles, family or even a lack of LGBT support groups in your area. Victims may also be threatened with “outing” if they attempt to leave. In relationships where one partner is from another country, the abuser may take advantage of their partners lack of knowledge on immigration law and threaten to get them deported back to their country.

Same-sex domestic abuse epidemic is silent and really needs to be exposed. As the counsellor at Zencentre I support the idea that everyone is important in their relationship and all have a right to fair treatment within the relationship.

Thank you for reading

Zena Finn


Online Couples Counselling

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