With abuse being about power and control, an abuser can use all the same strategies in a heterosexual relationship, such as isolation from supportive friends and family; economic and emotional abuse; and intimidation, coercion, and threats, as they can in a homosexual relationship. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, additional ways abusers in LGBTQ+ relations maintain power and control involves threatening to “out” a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity to the victim’s family members, employers, community members and others. Abusers can tell the victim that no one will help the victim because s/he is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or that for this reason, the partner “deserves” the abuse. Of particular issue to members of the LGBTQ+ community is being cut off from supportive resources as these may be fewer in number especially in rural communities. A very daunting fear is the lack of civil and legal protections, which varies from state to state, and how these legal protections (or lack thereof) may influence outcomes especially if children are involved.

Just like with intimate partner violence, sexual violence affects every demographic. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP) reports that nearly 1 in 10 LGBTQ+ survivors of intimate partner violence have also experienced sexual assault from their partners. There are many factors that increase the risk of sexual assault for members of the LGBTQ+ community, including high rates of hate-motivated violence and society’s hypersexualization of LGBTQ+ people. LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual assault may not report their assault or seek help because they fear judgment and discrimination from law enforcement, medical staff, even family and friends. Regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation, advocates at Phoenix Project are here to listen to you, advocate for you, and respect your identity.

Here are some additional websites specific to LGBTQ+ challenges and supports:

For more information or to talk through your situation, reach out to a Phoenix Project Advocate at 540-635-2302. Free, confidential, and language services provided for limited English proficient clients.