Same-sex couples and domestic violence

In recent years, societal views related to gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals and same-sex relationships have changed significantly. While today identifying as being gay or lesbian is widely accepted by most in society, data suggests a significant percentage of individuals who are involved in same-sex relationships may be victims of domestic violence and abuse.

At some point an individual who is gay, lesbian or bisexual may struggle to understand or accept their sexuality. Negative feelings about one's sexuality may be further exacerbated by a parent's disapproval or bullying experienced at school.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals may internalize these negative experiences which in turn have a negative impact on future relationships. Additionally, according to safehorizon.org, annually "more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes." Given this staggering number, it stands to reason that many of these children are gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine recently reviewed data from four previous studies to determine the prevalence of domestic violence in same-sex relationships. Reviewing data from some 30,000 individuals, researchers determined that domestic violence among same-sex couples may be even more prevalent than among heterosexual couples.

Researchers determined that at least one in four individuals who are involved in a same-sex relationship has been the victim of domestic violence. When examining issues that may contribute to this high percentage, researchers point to problems related to the "added stress of being a sexual minority," as being possible factors.

At times, any relationship can be challenging to maintain. This is often especially true in cases where partners have underlying issues from their childhood or grew up in homes where they were exposed to domestic violence. For gay, lesbian and bisexual partners, dealing with these stressors and challenges can be particularly difficult as they also attempt to cope with their own feelings of being different and persecuted.

Source: Reuters, "Domestic violence common among same-sex partners: review," Andrew M. Seaman, Sept. 24, 2014