Domestic violence happens in every type of relationship
Crisis line counselors are sometimes warned to be extra vigilant when they screen those seeking safety from domestic violence because, in the case of lesbian relationships, some pretend to be victims in order to be admitted into a shelter to access their partner. Turning a blind eye to domestic violence in lesbian relationships tells abusers they can get away with it…because they do. Here are some myths about same sex partner violence in lesbian relationships that need to come out in the open:
Because there are two women in the partnership they must have equal power.
People have skewed ideas about how different people of one sex can be–women in particular. There are women who are very capable of using incredible strength to cause great physical harm to their partner–biting, punching, kicking…all of it. Homicides and serious injury do occur. Not all women are nurturing. In fact, in a survey that included over 1,100 lesbians, more than half said they were abused by a same sex partner at some point in their life. And, up to 50 percent of lesbians have reported sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse doesn’t exist in lesbian partnerships.
Unfortunately, people tend not to believe that sexual abuse happens in lesbian relationships. When they think of this type of abuse, there is an idea that forced penetration with a penis must be involved. This is completely false. Emotional abuse with coercion and threats often occur in lesbian relationships, which forces one woman to submit. Threatening to “out” a partner is common as is humiliation in general. One woman can very well dominate another in a violent manner and sexually abuse the other, despite common beliefs to the contrary.
Lesbians and heterosexuals are equally as challenged after leaving an abusive relationship.
Although leaving an abusive relationship is difficult for anyone, lesbians face some specific challenges that heterosexuals don’t. Many lesbians do not seek assistance because they fear a homophobic response. Others are ashamed of their own sexuality due to messages they received growing up. Lesbians often don’t feel like they can be themselves much less risk being rejected when they seek help. Sometimes they’re not out to their families and abusers take advantage of this fact to further isolate them, perpetuating dependence.
Butch lesbians are the only ones who are abusive.
A woman doesn’t have to identify as butch or have any typically masculine traits whatsoever to be an abusive person. Not every lesbian relationship is butch/femme. A feminine lesbian who is an abuser can use this false assumption to her advantage. She might threaten to call the police when she’s not the one who is actually the victim. Sadly, law enforcement sometimes falls for this when the partner being blamed looks more masculine.