The signs and symptoms of abuse within lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) relationships are similar to those of other forms of domestic violence. They may include physical violence, sexual assault, and emotional and/or psychological abuse.
LGBT victims of domestic violence face unique challenges
Abuse may be minimized or discounted due to myths and assumptions regarding persons identified as LGBT. For example; the following are false assumptions:
- Women cannot rape.
- Men cannot be battered or raped.
- Same-sex relationships are always equal in power.
LGBT victims may be overlooked by mandatory domestic violence screening at hospitals.
Service availability may be limited, especially for gay male and transgender victims.
Victims also risk facing secondary abuse through bias from others in society.
To exert power and control, the abuser may:
- Threaten to reveal the sexual orientation of the victim to friends, family members, employers, church community, and law enforcement officials.
- Infect or threaten to infect the abused partner with HIV/AIDS.
- Threaten to tell others that the abused partner has HIV/AIDS.
- Minimize or justify abuse by stating that it cannot be domestic violence because it is a same-sex relationship.
- Make the abuser feel shame about sexual activity or gender identity.
As an LGBT victim of abuse, where can I find help in New York City?
Domestic violence is a crime regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Individuals do not have to be in a married relationship to be a victim of domestic violence. The NYPD definition of domestic violence in New York City includes same sex couples, intimate partners who have lived together at some point, and registered domestic partners.
Victims of domestic violence who are in danger should call 911 or have a friend or neighbor call 911 immediately. Victims may also go to the nearest police station for help. LGBT victims should ask the officer to complete a Domestic Incident Report. A Domestic Violence Prevention Officer (DVPO) will then be made available to provide supportive resources. DVPOs are specially trained and sensitive to LGBT issues. Victims may obtain an Order of Protection through the Criminal Court system if the abuser has been arrested. For more information, please visit the Courts section of the Web site.
New York City's 24-hour, toll-free, all-language Domestic Violence Hotline can help LGBT victims of domestic violence find appropriate support and shelter services. The domestic violence hotline maintains a comprehensive list of service agencies in New York City to meet the specific needs of all victims. For more information, please call the hotline at 800-621-HOPE (4673).
The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP) serves lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and HIV-affected victims of crime, with specialized services for victims of bias crimes, domestic violence, sexual assault, and HIV-related violence, among other things. Nearly one-half of all AVP clients seek help for domestic violence.
AVP provides a 24/7 crisis intervention bilingual English/Spanish hotline and in-person counseling; support groups; referrals; advocacy; court accompaniment; assistance locating sensitive, safe shelter; and other services. For help and local resources, please call 212-714-1141.
The New York City Anti-Violence Project
Callen Lorde Community Health Center
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project
The City of New York Resource Directory of Domestic Violence Services