rainbow hand

New report on intimate partner violence among LGBT people

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a coalition cordinated by the New York-based Anti-Violence Project, has just released its 2014 report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive intimate partner violence — and its results might surprise you. Or they might not surprise you at all, in which case I feel you, comrade. 

First, soap box: Let me get on one. This report is super important, because all too often intimate partner violence in queer communities is marginalized, misunderstood, or flat-out ignored, even in anti-abuse movements. This is partly, I think, because mainstream feminist thought has long failed to adequately conceptualize sexual violence experienced by cis men and trans people, and has often failed to be intersectional enough to understand causes of intimate partner violence beyond patriarchy.

Yup, I have written six articles that touch on intimate partner violence in queer communities and I linked to all of them above. It’s that important, guys.

Some demographic information from the report:

People of color made up slightly more than half of all survivors (51%), which is similar to the demographics of survivors in 2013 (50%)

There was an increase in the percentage of gay identified survivors from 2013 to 2014 (43% to 49%, respectively). Lesbian survivors accounted for 20% of reports and bisexual survivors accounted for 12% of survivors.

Something I found surprising:

There was an increase in the percentage of survivors who reported experiencing IPV to law enforcement from 35% in 2013 to 55% in 2014.

This last fact is one we should, I think, pause over, because it represents for me a major tension in combating intimate partner violence, and especially in queer communities. My totally unscientific guess for why reporting might have gone up is increasing climates of acceptance for LGBT people make more survivors feel comfortable approaching police. It’s awesome that more queer people feel like they can avail themselves of public resources, especially in situations where their wellbeing is threatened and they might need protection. At the same time, it raises the question: How do we come up with an effective way of addressing intimate partner violence that doesn’t reinforce and expand the criminalization of marginalized populations, as queer people who abuse often tend to be?

We can’t address these questions, however, until we understand the contours of the problem and bring serious engagement with queer intimate partner violence into feminist anti-violence discourse. So take a gander at this handy dandy blurb or at the full report, and please, please when you go forth righteously into the world to combat intimate partner violence, remember the queers.

Image credit: National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence

Reina Gattuso is passionate about empowering conversations around queerness, sexual ethics, and social movements with equal parts rhapsody and sass. Her writing has appeared at Time, Bitch, attn:, and The Washington Post. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Indian cinema, theater, and visual art at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

Reina Gattuso writes about her sex life for the good of human kind.

Read more about Reina

Join the Conversation