Abusive Relationships

This article is primarily concerned with domestic abuse taking place in relationships between partners, sometimes described as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

However domestic abuse is not restricted to adults. Teens can also be victims, may be overlooked and may be unaware that services might exist to help them.

While domestic abuse in heterosexual relationships is widely recognised with roughly one in four women experiencing abuse over their lifetime, abuse also occurs in LGBT relationships and with similar or slightly higher frequency. Domestic abuse is considered to be widely underreported, particularly in the case of men abused by women. Male victims of physical abuse often feel guilty that they are unable to stop the perpetrator.

Abuse is not restricted to physical violence, nor is it always about the stronger partner abusing the weaker.

What is Abuse?i

Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour on the part of the abuser designed to control their partner. It can happen at any point in a relationship, including after you have split up.

Anyone forced to change their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner or ex-partner's reaction is experiencing abuse. Similarly anyone forced to change their behaviour because they fear their partner might leave them is experiencing abuse.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. However statistics show most domestic abuse is carried out by men and experienced by women.

Domestic abuse is never the fault of the person experiencing it.

Domestic abuse is a crime in most Western jurisdictions.

Spotting the signs:

Forms of Domestic Abuseii

Will things improve?

An abusive partner may be sorry after an incidence of abuse and beg forgiveness. They may become charming for a while before becoming abusive again. The cycle will repeat. Usually domestic abuse gets worse over time.

Further Reading

https://avaproject.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2.3bdvresourceforgayandbisexualmen.pdf This leaflet produced for Barking & Dagenham NHS Primary Care Trust was specifically written for gay and bisexual men and provides excellent coverage of the subject. However it was produced in May 2008 and some of the organisations listed at the end may no longer exist or have been renamed.

Getting Help

Victims who need help may be able to access it from local government or an appropriate charitable organisation, or have a friend, family member or colleague who can assist, at least in the first instance, and can be trusted. In some cases help can be found from a sympathetic stranger. However, knowing or thinking you can trust someone is not the same as trusting someone you feel you should automatically be able to trust, for example: a parent or priest, but who, in practice, may turn out to be unsympathetic at best, or worse acts in a manner against the best interest of the victim.

Some links are listed below that may be useful in getting help. Expect non-LGBT+ specific sites to be written from the perspective of Men on Women violence.

In the UK

http://www.galop.org.uk/ Galop is an LGBT+ anti-violence charity. They run a national LGBT+ domestic abuse helpline 0800 999 5428 or 0300 999 5428 available 10.00-17.00 M-F extended to 20.00hrs W & Th.

https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/types-crime/domestic-abuse/ Victim Support is an independent charity serving victims of all forms of crime. Their site has links for reporting crime and getting help. See also their leaflet which has a handy page for assessing risk in an abusive relationship. https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Surviving-Domestic-Abuse-Leaflet.pdf

www.endthefear.co.uk/same-sex-domestic-abuse/ Greater Manchester Against Domestic Abuse. Similar but much briefer information to the Barking & Dagenham PCT leaflet. Contains local contact line information.

In the USA

https://hotline.rainn.org/online National Sexual Assault Hotline or call 800.656.4673. RAINN (Rape,Abuse & Incest National Network) operates in partnership with 1000 local sexual assault service providers across the USA.

www.nsvrc.org/survivors National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The site includes a link to a directory of organisations who provide assistance that can be searched by state.

www.thehotline.org National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1.800.799.7233, Text "Start" to 1.800.799.7233

www.thetrevorproject.org The Trevor Project's primary focus is LGBTQ+ young people dealing with coming out issues and suicide prevention, but may have access to some suitable resources.

A general resource list

A more general resource list, believed to be correct on 19 August 2021, has been added. The list is not expected to be updated or maintained and you should perform your own research.

Case Studies

1 The following article from the US journal, The Atlantic, has some interesting interviews with three victims: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/a-same-sex-domestic-violence-epidemic-is-silent/281131/

2 The compiler is indebted to two correspondents for allowing the following situations to be quoted:


'I had a friend who was a very successful banker after he left the armed forces. He was very much the typical macho man. Used to go to the gym daily, was very much into bodybuilding and physical activity. He thought nothing of going for a 20-mile trek through rough country.

He was married to a small woman, who always seemed to be dressing in fluffy pink and who hated the sight of me. It was made very clear to me that I was not a welcome visitor when I called in to see him on a weekend.

In the last letter I had from him, he said he could not cope with her constant nagging, I phoned him at work as soon as I got his letter, and was told he had not come in. When I phoned his home his son told me that his father had hung himself on the Saturday afternoon about 12 hours after he had sent that letter.'


'From what I've read elsewhere, shame and feeling responsible for being abused are typical reactions. One of my best friends was abused by her ex-husband. The guy she's currently in a long-term relationship with is mildly abusive (he'd often castigate her in public for not being as aggressive and forceful as he would even though she's quiet, shy and hates confrontations). I remember sitting across from them while they were watching a movie on his computer. I noticed she was cringing even though he seemed to be ignoring her at the time. I didn't want to say anything out loud in case things were more serious than I thought, so I texted her. She was genuinely surprised that she was reacting that way and hadn't realised what she was doing.'

The effects of abuse can remain present for some time after the person has escaped the abuser, and may never completely be overcome.

General Review

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_in_same-sex_relationships and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence

Finally a pat on the back to Greatwell Homes, a housing association in the Northampton area that not only includes domestic abuse advice pages on its website but has a subsection for same-sex relationships:



i From Refuge website : nationaldahelpline.org.uk

ii Ibid

Refuge is a UK charity supporting women and children against domestic violence. The website noted reflects that priority, and the pronouns used in the sections quoted have been amended for the purposes of this article. Other minor edits have been made to reinforce particular points or to reflect the international readership of the IOMFATS site.