Domestic abuse is a prevalent problem in society. By definition,domestic abuse is a pattern of abusive behaviors used by a person involved in an intimate relationship against their partner. It is usually a method of controlling the individual being abused. The abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional and is not always apparent to those outside the relationship. Heterosexual and homosexual partners alike can be involved in abusive relationships. It is as though this crime has no boundaries regarding race, religion, economic standing or sexual preference.
Statistically speaking there are any number of factors that may lead up to domestic abuse. Stress, alcohol, drug abuse, financial problems, self esteem issues and inability to meet expectations in a relationship are a few of the possible precipitating factors but the list is very long. While each of these might lead up to domestic abuse or violence they are only environmental factors. The actual cause comes from within the abuser.
It is unclear how many couples experience domestic abuse because so many incidents go unreported. Those that are reported show that as many couples involved in same sex relationships are affected by domestic violence as those in opposite sex relationships. In reality it is possible that the numbers of unreported cases may be higher among lesbian couples. Many people involved in abuse do not report it because of the stigma involved. Lesbian victims face the added worry of their sexual preferences becoming public knowledge as well. The fear of being outed to a community is often hard to overcome. Law enforcement personnel may take a different view of lesbian abuse cases and think them not as serious because there is no man involved. That idea pops up again when people think that same sex abuse is an equal fight where no one has more physical power therefore it is a fair fight. Unfortunately there are still some people who believe that any abuse suffered is just part of the sexual lifestyle of lesbian women and due to that is not really abuse at all.
Domestic abuse comes in many forms. The most obvious is the physical battering that we know as domestic violence. It is the most visible form of abuse leaving behind injuries that are hard to hide. Emotional abuse is harder to see because it leaves no outward signs. The damage is internal and victims are left questioning their own value and worth. Financial abuse occurs when one partner controls the money and uses it to manipulate the behavior of the other partner. Isolation is common in domestic abuse situations. It is helpful to the abuser to isolate the victim from those who would most likely notice the signs of abuse. Eventually this tactic closes off an avenue of escape for those who are abused by alienating them from the people most likely to offer them assistance. Sexual abuse is evident in many cases but is often not understood. If you are involved in a consensual relationship how can sex be considered abuse? Rape is not uncommon and the withholding of sex as punishment for alleged infractions are two sides to the sexual abuse picture.
Help is available for all domestic violence victims and lesbian victims are no exception to the rule. Call the police and be sure to file a report if abuse occurs. Domestic violence laws should be for the protection of all people but due to the wording of some laws it is not always easy for law enforcement personnel to have a clear cut course of action. Lesbian victims are entitled to protection and may have to demand that they get it. Keep communication open with your friends and family. If the abuse is ongoing ask a friend to help you develop an escape plan. That plan will prepare you to leave the relationship when the time is right. Do not be afraid to take advantage of the services offered by shelters. They are not there to ask about your sexual preferences but to help you deal with your status as a victim of abuse. Most importantly, do not suffer silently. Reach out for help and keep reaching until you find what you need.
For additional resources or information regarding domestic violence in lesbian relationships refer to the following sites:
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