LGBTQ Relationship Violence
The following information is based off of "Beyond the Wheel" Bullet Points developed by Connie Vurk © 2005 for the NW Network of Bisexual, Transgender, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse. The information below depicts the ways someone could take advantage of another person in the LGBTQA community.
LGBTQA Power & Control Wheel: Selected Tactics of Abuse
The isolation many LGTBQA people face as a result of transphobia/homophobia is useful to a batterer trying to isolate their partner. Because of these phobias, when people are first coming out, they may be more vulnerable to abuse. Isolation can happen after losing friends and/or family, and when a person remains closeted, cut off from LGBTQA community resources. Threatening to “out” a person or insisting that a person remain closeted can be used as tools of control.
A person who batters using their own vulnerability to obligate or coerce a partner into staying, caring for them, and/or prioritizing their needs. While the vulnerability may be very real and significant, when a batterer use those vulnerabilities to control, survivors are exploited (resources, time, attention) and survivors’ attempts to negotiate boundaries or prioritize self are undermined.
Using friends to monitor survivor and gather information, to ostracize the survivor, to threaten to ostracize- safety planning cannot rely on the survivor never being in community space with the batterer. Our communities are too small for this. We must do harm reduction planning or survivors “drop out” of community to avoid batterer.
Law enforcement agencies were used as sources of state violence against LGBTQA people to control and intimidate. LGBTQA people have been targeted for violence in mental health institutions, by hate and bias attacks, experience disparity in health and human services, and are vulnerable to extortion. A bias attack or institutional harm against an LGBTQA person in one location affects people all across the country. LGBTQA people experience discrimination and institutional oppression based on race, class, national origin, gender, religion, etc., as well as gender identity and sexual orientation. These things are used by batterers to increase control.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity remains unchallenged through much of the U.S. Variations in civil legal protections and relationship recognition among jurisdiction in states and between states make critical issues such as custody, dissolution of partnership agreements, property issues and other basic familiar civil legal issues incredibly difficult to resolve. This limits LGBTQA people’s mobility and access to support.
LGBTQA people have historically been forced to make community in “illegal” and marginalized spaces such as bars. With a high rate of alcohol and drug use and abuse, those who batter leverage the ongoing consequences of ways that LGBTQA people’s lives have been historically criminalized as well as the realities of current drug use (and drug criminalization) when setting up/maintaining a system of power and control.
- Use non-gendered language to refer to clients, significant others, etc. (partner, perpetrator, they/them) and name the person as they name themselves.
- Affirm the person seeking support.
- Tell them it is not their fault.
- Advocate for health care services for this person.
- Be able to refer them to an LGBTQA organization or group.
- Don’t assume the person is heterosexual or cisgender.
- Don’t assume someone was assaulted because they are LGBTQA.
- Don’t assume the gender of the person being abused.
- Don’t presume that because a person told you that they identify as part of the LGBTQA community that they are “out”.