Relationships are as different as the people in them. The same goes for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) relationships. There are qualities all healthy relationships should have and abuse is never one of them. No matter who you love or how you identify, everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship.
Healthy LGBTQ Relationships
Your relationship should make you feel supported, respected, and equal – building you up instead of tearing you down. In a healthy relationship, you are able to enjoy your time together while being able to spend time apart, communicate about your thoughts and feelings without fear of how your partner will respond, and feel like you are able to be yourself without being pressured to change. When looking for signs of a healthy relationship, here are a few more things to look for if you are in a LGBTQ relationship:
Respecting your partner’s name and gender pronouns
Supporting your partner’s gender identity and expression
Supporting your partner’s sexual orientation
Feeling comfortable talking about boundaries (ex: physical, sexual, emotional)
Anyone can experience abuse in their relationships and LGBTQ relationships are no different. Statistics show that relationship abuse occurs at the same rates, and sometimes higher rates due to barriers to support, in LGBTQ relationships when compared to relationships that are not LGBTQ.
LGBTQ teens experience dating abuse more frequently than teens who do identify as LGBTQ. (Urban Institute)
In addition to common warning signs, there may be other signs present in LQBTQ relationships that indicate that a relationship is unhealthy or abusive:
Pressuring someone to be “out” or threatening to “out” them to other people
Using a person’s identity, orientation, expression to make them feel inferior or like they deserve the abuse
Telling someone their identity isn’t real, or that they aren’t a “real” man or woman
Restricting a person’s access to medication and affirming care (ex: hormones, counseling, birth control, PrEP/PEP)
Denying abuse based on the false belief that abuse only happens between a man and a woman
Barriers to Support
It can be challenging for anyone to seek help during or after an abusive relationship, but there can be additional obstacles for people who identify as LGBTQ. Shame, homophobia/transphobia/heterosexism, or the fear of being outed may keep someone from seeking support. There may be a fear of not being taken seriously because of the belief that dating/domestic violence does not occur in LGBTQ relationships or that the relationship isn’t a “real” relationship. Abusive partners can take advantage of these additional barriers to further the abuse happening in the relationship.
If you are wanting to support someone you care about that is LGBTQ and in an abusive relationship, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Empower them. Let them know that abuse is never their fault and support them in making decisions about what their next steps will be in getting help. Connect them with resources.
Be open. LGBTQ people can face a lot of judgment and discrimination. You can create a safer space by being willing to talk and not passing judgment. While some identities or language can be new to you, try to be open to other definitions and expanding what you know.
Challenge assumptions. The more we challenge our own assumptions, and think about how they influence our words and actions, the better allies we can be.
FORGE – FORGE is a national transgender and SOFFA (Significant Others, Family, Friends and Allies) organization that focuses on empowering, healing, and connecting victims and survivors of violence.
The Trevor Project – The Trevor Project is a crisis line for LGBTQ Youth. The hotline number is 866-488-7386
PFLAG – PFLAG is the extended family of the LGBTQ community. They’re made up of LGBTQ individuals, family members and allies. “Because together, we’re stronger.”
If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, and is seeking help or support, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat with an advocate through Love is Respectby texting LOVEIS to 22522. If you are in the Hays/Caldwell county area, call HCWC at 512-396-HELP(4357)
Kiara is a full-time cat lady with a passion for social justice. At HCWC, she is the Primary Prevention Coordinator – facilitating conversations with adolescents and adults on fostering healthier relationships and ways to make the world a safer, more equitable place. Kiara is a proud alum of Texas State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Applied Sociology. Her passions include social change, youth activism, LGBTQ activism, and crafting. She doesn’t like taking pictures, but she does love Bitmojis.