The police, domestic and family violence support services, LGBTIQ organisations, the courts and other services work with LGBTIQ people who have experienced or are experiencing domestic and family violence.

To date, there is limited Australian research that records the level of domestic and family violence in LGBTIQ relationships. However, a number of international and local studies suggest that the general patterns and levels of domestic violence in LGBTIQ relationships are about the same as in cisgender heterosexual (non-LGBTIQ) relationships. 

For links to a number of research projects examining DFV in LGBTIQ relationships, see LBGTIQ Services.

Aspects of LGBTIQ Domestic and Family Violence

Domestic and family violence in LGBTIQ and cisgender heterosexual relationships share many similarities, including the types of abuse and the impact on the abused partner. However, there are a number of aspects that are unique to LGBTIQ domestic and family violence. These include:

‘Outing’ as a Method of Control

If the abused partner has not disclosed their sexuality, gender (identity, history or expression), intersex or HIV status to their family, friends, workmates or their cultural community the abusive partner may use ‘outing’ or the threat of ‘outing’ as a method of control. 

Domestic and Family Violence Isn’t Well Understood in the Community

Historically, there has been little information or discussion in the LGBTIQ communities about domestic and family violence in relationships. Most information on domestic and family violence relates to cisgender heterosexual relationships with the man as the perpetrator. This lack of understanding means that some people may not:

  • believe domestic or family violence happens in LGBTIQ relationships; 
  • recognise abuse as domestic or family violence if it does happen to them; or
  • know how to respond if they see domestic or family violence in their friends’ or family members’ relationships.

Confidentiality and Isolation Within LGBTIQ Communities

The relatively small size and close-knit nature of LGBTIQ communities, especially in smaller cities and rural, regional and remote areas, may make it difficult for an abused partner to seek help. They may feel embarrassed about the abuse or their partner may have tried to turn others in the community against them. An abusive partner may isolate the other from contact with the LGBTIQ community by preventing them from reading the LGBTIQ community media, attending LGBTIQ venues or events or seeing friends from within the community. This is especially true for people in their first LGBTIQ relationship, as they may not have had much contact with the LGBTIQ community before the relationship began.