Domestic Violence Suffered by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) Communities

An important national study concluded that bisexual women in the US are at a higher risk of sexual and domestic violence than women who self-identify as lesbian or heterosexual. It also shows that the amount of violence suffered by gay men and lesbian women is the same or higher than that of heterosexuals. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation, published by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, is said to be the first report comprehensive enough to make such generalizations. It is based on interviews conducted in 2010 and obtained from 16,507 English- and/or Spanish-speaking men and women 18 years of age or older.

Here are some of the troubling findings:

  • Four in 10 lesbian women (43.8%), 6 in 10 bisexual women (61.1%), and 1 in 3 heterosexual women (35.0%) reported experiencing rape, physical violence, and/or stalking within the context of an intimate partner relationship at least once during their lifetime. This translates to an estimated 714,000 lesbian women, 2 million bisexual women, and 38.3 million heterosexual women in the United States.
  • As for men, approximately 1 in 4 gay men (26.0%), 4 in 10 bisexual men (37.3%), and more than 1 in 4 heterosexual men (29.0%) reported experiencing rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. This equates to 708,000 gay men, 711,000 bisexual men, and over 30 million heterosexual men in the United States
  • More than 6 in 10 lesbian women (63.0%), 7 in 10 bisexual women (76.2%), and nearly one-half of heterosexual women (47.5%) experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. 48.4% of lesbian women, 68.8% of bisexual women, and 40.5% of heterosexual women reported experiencing coercive control by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Approximately 60% of gay men, 53% of bisexual men, and 49% of heterosexual men reported experiencing psychological aggression in the context of an intimate relationship at some point in their lives.

The survey clearly demonstrates the urgent need of domestic violence services specifically targeted to the needs of lesbian, gay, and bisexual survivors. The whole text or the report is available here.

Given the results of this study, it’s no surprise that W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has seen an increase in service provision to LGBTQ communities. This increase is due in part to our dedication to focus on creating a safe space within our agency for these communities. The increase has been rather dramatic. We saw a 28% increase in services provision to members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer communities and a 33% increase in service provision to folks who identify as transgender.*

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. views our inclusion work as an ongoing process as opposed to a singular act. The team at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has created a plan for our inclusion efforts, which includes intensive training at the Northwest Network in Seattle, Washington, creating a work group to review materials for gender neutrality, self-awareness exercises designed to challenge any heteronormative practices and/or beliefs, being transparent with our learnings and sharing them with the field, and seeking out volunteers that self-identify as members of LGBTQ communities.

This focus on inclusion could not have come at better time. We feel poised to tackle this issue, as we grow a survivor community that is truly inclusive and welcoming to us all, regardless of where we fall on the spectrum of gender or sexual orientation. As the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control study shows, as service providers and as members of social justice movements, we need to respond to ALL survivors of relationship abuse, including those that are members of LGBTQ communities.

*these statistics refer to clients who self-identify as members of LGBTQ communities. Part of our work has revolved around checking our assumptions and we do not indicate gender or sexual orientation unless a survivor discloses this information to us.

~ LGBTQ Inclusion Work Group

W.O.M.A.N., Inc.


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