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What Is LGBT+ Intimate Partner Violence? A Clinical And Forensic Psychology Podcast Episode.

What Is LGBT+ Intimate Partner Violence? A Clinical And Forensic Psychology Podcast Episode.

If you’ve been a reader or listener of the podcast for a while then you know I can never stay on a positive topic too long, so in this forensic psychology podcast episode I wanted to explore domestic violence in homosexual relationships. This is a massive problem, this kills people and there are a lot of factors that make it even harder for LGBT+ people to get the psychological help that they need compared to heterosexual people. Domestic violence is wrong against anyone so we need to talk about it. if you enjoy learning about LGBT+ experiences, clinical psychology and forensic psychology, you’ll love today’s episode.

Note: please note that for the rest of the podcast episode I’m going to use the terms gay and LGBT+ interchangeably and to mean the same thing. I’m doing that because saying gay is so much easier to type on the blog post and say on the podcast, so if I offend you I’m sorry.

Today’s episode has been sponsored by Social Psychology: A Guide To Social and Cultural Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also, you can buy the eBook directly from me at

Another Episode To Note:

Why Do Clinical Psychology Students And Psychologists Need To Be Aware Of LGBT+ Domestic Violence?

I’ve mentioned before on the podcast about domestic violence and the terrible impact this has on the victims. As well as there are a lot of terrible stories about how women that have been domestically abused get up the courage to flee and go to a shelter, and the staff there have made heterosexist comments to the woman, asking her about her boyfriend. However, the problem with this people is that if the victim is a lesbian then this question always leads to them shutting down, no longer talking and they don’t get the help that they need.

Since these women were in abusive relationships with their girlfriends.

Therefore, not only are these women having to develop the courage to flee, ask for help and the shame that comes from being in an abusive relationship. But whenever they come into services and they’re asked heterosexist questions then their shame is only added.

These stories all show why gay-related intimate partner violence is one of the largest health problems facing the gay community with some research showing intimate partner violence happens in 1 in 3 people. That’s outrageously high.

The problem with this intimate partner violence mainly comes from the shame and stigma being compounded, because you have the shame of the intimate partner violence and the anti-gay bias that comes from the abusers. Like internalised transphobia and homophobia. Both resulting in gay intimate partner violence not getting the attention it so desperately deserves.

As well as because intimate partner violence is most common in heterosexual relationships, many gay people might not even realise they’re experiencing it.

Additionally, as many similarities as there are between homosexual and heterosexual imitate partner violence, the gay violence towards takes place behind the backdrop of anti-gay bias.

As a result of the bias making many gay people, for the most part unconsciously, that they deserve the abuse as punishment for their homosexuality or gender identity. And these shards of internalised homophobia continue to harm their lives and their relationships.

Overall, when it comes to clinical psychologists and psychology students not knowing about gay intimate partner violence, this is mainly because it isn’t spoken about, it isn’t taken seriously and I think this paragraph from Doctor Susan Holt sums up why we need to know about this perfectly:

“LGBTQ domestic violence is not the same as domestic violence in the heterosexual community. There are significant differences. If you don’t understand those differences, then you’re not going to be helpful, or even safe, as a service provider for those who need help.”

On the whole, if you don’t know about something then you can’t help and support the person. For example, if you didn’t know about depression, anxiety and autism, how on earth could you ever hope to support these people that need our help? You couldn’t so this is no different.

What Do Mental Health Professionals Need To Know About LGBT+ Intimate Partner Violence?

Now we’re going to look at the three main causes of this form of abuse.

Heterosexism And The Barriers To Seeking Help

Interestingly enough, there is such a thing called Heterosexism and this is the belief that being a heterosexual and cisgender is the only way that has a right to exist, and it is the natural sexual orientation and gender identity.

Personally, that does make me laugh because homosexuality is found in over 1,500 species of animals and yet homophobia is only found in humans. So what’s natural?

Anyway, Heterosexism informs public and legal definitions of domestic abuse so these have a knock-on effect on the laws and intake questions that professionals ask. As well as the perceptions that professionals and laypeople have about both victims and abusers.

Since at its very core, Heterosexism is about erasing gay relationships.

That doesn’t help people to realise that gay people can be domestically abused too and they deserve the exact same help given to straight people.

Internalised Homophobia

I think this is one of the most heartbreaking things about the gay community at times. When we take all of the world’s hate, outrage and disgust for who we love and we allow that shame to take root inside of us. Resulting in gay people unconsciously seeking out punishment or to project our shame onto another person.

This internalised homophobia takes many forms but sadly one of those forms is definitely intimate partner violence. As well as this helps to explain why some victims stay with abusers and why some abusers take out their shame on others.

It is still disgusting but we cannot blame the gay community for the development of internalised homophobia. They can be blame if they don’t take steps to get rid of their shame and if they use that shame to harm others then the blame is right. But considering it is the bigots and other idiots that cause this shame to develop, I don’t blame my community.

Because believe me, I definitely understand what some people have had to live under when we’re figuring out that they were gay. I understand how internalised homophobia can form, but it isn’t right at all.

Anti-LGBT+ Bias

This awful type of bias creates a societal stigma towards gay people and in terms of intimate partner violence, this results in the USA not having a single gay abuse shelter. This is made even worse by there only being two court-approved gay-specific batterer’s intervention programmes in the entirety of the USA.

In comparison to over 150 court-approved programmes in LA County alone. This is problematic because not having these shelters for gay people means that they have to seek shelter with heterosexual people and get exposed to Heterosexism in the process, which when you’re being abused isn’t what you want in the slightest.

Also if a transgender person tries to get shelter from a violent abuse situation, they are often turned away by heterosexual shelters, so they end up going back to their abusers and getting it ten times harder than before for daring to run away.

What Categories Of People Result In LGBT+ Domestic Abuse?

As clinical psychologists and psychology students, it is our job to be aware of the prevention strategies that can be used to help gay people out of abusive relationships. Therefore, Doctor Holt did some ground-breaking work and we now understand the four categories involved in abuse and how they relate to gay people.

Firstly, there is a primary aggressor. This is someone who has the goal to maintain their control and power, so they mentally, emotionally, sexually, physically or financially abuse others.

Secondly, there is the secondary aggressor. This is a common category for gay relationships. Since it is often seen as a mutual conflict but the secondary aggressor is a person who fights back in retaliation or self-defence. Yet what makes this person an aggressor is that they don’t disengage once a conflict has ended temporally.

Thirdly, you have the primary victim. This is a person who seeks to disengage from any conflict as quickly as possible so there is no fighting back in defence or retaliation.

Finally, there is the defending victim. This is another common category for gay relationships. Because I will be the first to admit that members of the gay community, we need to defend ourselves. There is a good chance that we will be beaten up on the streets and attacked, and this can happen at school, at home or on the playground as well. Therefore, when a conflict begins a “defending” victim will fight back in self defence. Yet once a person feels like they’ve won in defending themselves or have established a sense of safety, they stop and disengage from the conflict.

On the whole according to Doctor Holt, the two most common categories that mental health services will see are defending victims and secondary aggressors. Since primary aggressors don’t really seek out mental health services, despite them needing it just as much as the other categories if not more.

However, it is important to note that individual therapy isn’t useful for abusers, as well as obviously couples therapy is an extremely bad idea for victims and partners (Ford et al., 2012).

Overall, when it comes to the best mental health intervention that we can use to address gay intimate partner violence, we simply don’t know. We don’t know because it isn’t research enough and this will continue to be one of the largest health problems the gay community faces for the foreseeable future. Yet until then, the best prevention strategy we have is to simply heal its cause and all roads of violence lead to homophobia and that shame that gay people are forced to feel by the haters, bigots and plenty of other nobs that I really hope people never to get meet.

It is awful and I don’t wish it on anyone.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s social psychology podcast episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out:

Social Psychology: A Guide To Social and Cultural Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also, you can buy the eBook directly from me at

Have a great day.

Social Psychology and LGBT+ Psychology References

Ford, C. L., Slavin, T., Hilton, K. L., & Holt, S. L. (2012). Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Services and Resources in Los Angeles. Health Promotion Practice, 14(6), 841–849.

Mental Health America of Northern California and Equality California Institute, prepared for the California Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity. (2012). First, Do No Harm: Reducing Disparities for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Populations in California, The California LGBTQ Reducing Mental Health Disparities Population Report.…

Messinger, A. M. (2020). LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence: Lessons for Policy, Practice, and Research (First ed.). University of California Press.

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. (2007). Lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT) communities and domestic violence: Information & resources. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The Center’s Revered STOP Violence Program Turns 25. (2021, October 14). LGBT News Now.…

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