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About Abuse

LGBTQIA Victims

Updated: 
September 12, 2018

What forms of abuse are unique to LGBTQ victims?

Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse can occur in any type of relationship, but some other types of abuse are unique to LGBTQ individuals. Here are some of the ways that abusers gain power and control over LGBTQ victims:

  • threatening to “out” the victim or reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • telling the victim that no one will help them or that they deserve the abuse because of their gender identity or sexual orientation;
  • denying the victim’s identity by saying that at some point their behavior or identity did not conform to the abuser's definition of any label the victim chooses to use (e.g., saying to a man, "You've had a relationship with a woman, so you're not really gay.");
  • telling the victim that the abuse is a “normal” part of a same-sex relationship;
  • telling the victim that the abuse cannot be domestic violence because it is taking place between LGBTQ individuals; and
  • claiming that the abuse is an expression of some "desirable" trait within LGBTQ relationships (e.g., "This is just me being butch, which is why you like me").1

Along with general resources for domestic violence victims, there are places where LGBTQ victims of abuse can find help specific to their needs. For a list of local and national resources that are LGBTQ-friendly, please see our National Organizations / LGBTQ page.

Note: This information is based on materials for LGBTQ people. For information on forms of abuse unique to intersex or asexual victims, please see What forms of abuse are unique to intersex victims? and What forms of abuse are unique to asexual victims?

1 This information was adapted from the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s LGBTQ Relationship Violence page.

What forms of abuse are unique to transgender victims?

In addition to “traditional” forms of abuse and the abuse described in What forms of abuse are unique to LGBTQ victims?, transgender or trans victims of domestic violence may face specific forms of abuse because they are trans. In one 2015 study, trans survivors reported experiencing physical violence, emotional abuse, threats, and intimidation.1 Trans people are vulnerable to emotional abuse and bullying by the abusive partner because of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. Here are some of the behaviors abusers may use to gain power and control over transgender victims:

  • emotionally belittling the victim by calling the victim "it" or anything other than the victim’s pronouns;
  • making fun of how the victim’s body looks and/or how it does or doesn’t “match” the victim's gender identity;
  • accusing the victim of not being a "real" man/woman;
  • ridiculing the victim’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation, perhaps by using slurs, offensive pronouns, or insults;
  • denying the victim access to medical treatment and/or hormones by hiding or discarding medication, preventing the victim from seeing the doctor (such as by taking away the car or withholding money), or creating other barriers that prevent the victim from receiving medical attention;
  • hiding or throwing away a victim’s accessories or clothing items, especially items which help the victim present as their gender (such as a binder for trans men and nonbinary and gender nonconforming people);
  • touching parts of the victim’s body in an unwanted way, or calling body parts by terms the abuser knows will hurt the victim;
  • justifying sexual abuse by saying things like, "this is how real men/women like sex;"
  • threatening to "out" the victim to family, friends, co-workers, landlords, law enforcement, or anyone else without the victim’s consent;
  • telling the victim that they would “make the LGBTQ community look bad” by coming forward with the abuse; and
  • forbidding the victim from revealing that they are transgender or from talking about issues specific to the transgender community with others.1

Along with general resources for domestic violence victims, there are places where transgender victims of abuse can find help specific to their needs. For a list of local and national resources that specialize in transgender domestic violence or are LGBTQ-friendly, please see our National Organizations / LGBTQ page.

1 This information has been adapted from information compiled by FORGE - see "Transgender/SOFFA: Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Resource Sheet."

What forms of abuse are unique to intersex victims?

Intersex victims of abuse may face specific forms of abuse because they are intersex. In addition to “traditional” forms of abuse and the abuse described in What forms of abuse are unique to LGBTQ victims?, intersex people are vulnerable to abuse based on ignorance or bigotry about their bodies. Intersex victims of domestic violence face similar or higher rates of domestic violence when compared to the general population. In one study from 2007, 50% of intersex victims of domestic violence reported being raped by a romantic partner.1 Here are some of the behaviors abusers may use to gain power and control over intersex victims:

  • threatening to tell the victim’s friends, family, or coworkers that they are intersex without their permission;
  • pressuring the victim to behave in a way that conforms to specific gender stereotypes;
  • pressuring the victim to take medications or have surgeries to change their body to conform to a specific set of sexual characteristics;
  • telling the victim that they are not a specific sexual orientation (for instance, that they are not gay) because they are intersex; and
  • accusing the victim of “tricking” the abuser because the victim’s body does not look like what the abuser thinks a person of that gender should look like.

For more information and support on intersex issues, please see the Intersex Society of North America.

1LGBTQ Communities and Domestic Violence,” National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
2 This information has been adapted from Intersex Human Rights Australia.

What forms of abuse are unique to asexual victims?

Asexual victims of abuse may face specific forms of abuse because they are asexual. In addition to “traditional” forms of abuse and the abuse described in What forms of abuse are unique to LGBTQ victims?, asexual people are vulnerable to abuse based on their lack of sexual attraction or desire. Here are some of the behaviors abusers may use to gain power and control over asexual victims:

  • saying there is something “wrong” with the victim or that the victim is “broken” because they are asexual;
  • telling the victim that something is “wrong” with their body, and that is why they are asexual;
  • mocking the victim’s body or making the victim feel bad about their body responding or not responding to sexual acts;
  • touching the victim’s body without permission or in a way the abuser knows makes the victim uncomfortable;
  • threatening the victim with rape or sexual assault to “cure” the victim’s asexuality;
  • telling the victim that they are asexual or are confused about being asexual because no one wants to have a relationship or sex with them;
  • threatening to tell the victim’s friends, family, or coworkers about their asexuality without their permission; and
  • stopping or forbidding the victim from speaking to other asexual people, talking about asexuality, or attending in-person or online support groups for asexual people.1

For more information on domestic abuse and sexual violence toward asexual people, please see Resources for Ace Survivors.

1 This information has been adapted from the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition’s and OUTreach Resource Center’s brochure, “Asexual People and Intimate Partner Violence,” with additional information from The Huffington Post’s “Battling Asexual Discrimination, Sexual Violence And ‘Corrective’ Rape.”