Domestic Violence Awareness Month: The LGBTQ Community

Society often interchanges the terms domestic violence and domestic abuse. These terms should not be interchangeable.

Too often women, men, elderly and the LGBTQ community will confuse abuse with violence and not report incidents which don’t result in physical harm. They think if they aren’t bleeding or bruised, it is not abuse.

Abusive behaviors or tactics can cover many actions which don’t necessarily result in physical signs of violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive control one person exercises over another person.

Battering another is a behavior that physically harms. It can arouse fear, may prevent the victim from doing what they wish, or force the victim to behave in ways they do not want. Domestic violence involves a continuum of behavior ranging from degrading remarks to cruel jokes, economic exploitation, punches and kicks, false imprisonment, sexual abuse, suffocating actions, maiming assaults, and homicide.

Verbal and emotional abuse can be very subtle. When left unchecked, verbal and emotional abuse may increase in frequency and severity and are just as destructive to victims as physical abuse (Tovar, 2016).

The Coronavirus has caused additional concerns for victims of domestic abuse. Being lockdown, isolated from a support system and limited means of escape has caused an increase of calls to domestic hotlines and a sharp increase of domestic calls to police (Toesland, 2020).

Even more concerning is the increase and lack of domestic violence awareness involving the LGBTQ community. The methods one uses to abuse are similar to heterosexual relationships with one significant difference which is referred as “outing”. The abuser threatens to “out” their partner which causes addition harm while continuing to maintain control.

“The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found for LGBTQ people:

· 44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of straight women

· 26 percent of gay men and 37 percent of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 29 percent of straight men

· 46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of straight women and 13 percent of lesbians

· 22 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of straight women (Human Rights Campaign, 2020, p. para 5).

It is important for all of us to work together to recognize the red flags of an abusive relationship regardless of one’s sexual orientation and offer assistance and support.

Coronavirus Restrictions HIglight LGBTQ Domestic Violence Crisis . (2020, retrieved 09 30). Retrieved 2020, from Human Rights Campaign:

Toesland, F. (2020, April 17). Coronavirus Restrictions Highlight LGBTQ Domestic Abuse Crisis. Retrieved from NBC Out of Health and Wellness:

Tovar, L. A. (2016). Smart Teens, Safe Teens: Respecting Relationships in Your Social Digital Life. Bourbonnais, IL: Bookend Publishers, Inc.

About Dr. Lynn Atkinson Tovar

Dr. Lynn Atkinson Tovar is a professor of Justice, Law and Public Safety Studies at Lewis University in Illinois. The former commander has done research on teen relationships and technology as well as abusive relationships. Her book "Smart Teen, Safe Teen: Respecting Relationships in Your Social Digital Life " is available at

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