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Abusive partners in LGBTQ+ relationships use all the same tactics to gain power and control as abusive partners in heterosexual relationships - physical, sexual or emotional abuse; intimidation, threats, humiliation, etc.
But abusive partners in LGBTQ+ relationships reinforce their tactics that maintain power and control with societal factors that compound the complexity a survivor faces in leaving or getting help.

Attitudes like "women don't hurt each other" or "a fight between two men is a fair fight" can keep people from recognizing and acknowledging abuse.

  • "Outing" a partner's sexual orientation or gender identity. Abusive partners in LGBTQ+ relationships may threaten to "out" victims to family members, employers, community members and others.
  • Saying that no one will help the victim because they are LGBTQ+, or that for this reason, the partner "deserves" the abuse.
  • Justifying the abuse with the notion that a partner is not "really" LGBTQ+ (i.e. the victim may once have had/may still have relationships, or express a gender identity, inconsistent with the abuser's definitions of these terms). This can be used as a tool in verbal and emotional abuse as well as to further the isolation of a victim from the community.
  • Portraying the violence as mutual and even consensual, or as an expression of masculinity or some other "desirable" trait.

Specific Barriers to the LGBTQ+ Community

Most LGBTQ+ victims may feel as though they are in a "double-closet" of shame. First being the anxiety of expressing their sexual orientation/gender identity to a complete - often heterosexual/cisgender - stranger. Second, the humiliation of admitting being abused by someone you love.
  • Shame or Embarrassment. You may be struggling with your own internalized homophobia or shame about your sexual orientation or gender identity. Your abusive partner may attempt to use this shame to exert power and control over you. They may try to make you feel guilty about yourself by calling you names that play on sexuality or gender insecurities (like saying you're "not man enough") or pressuring you into sexual acts that you're not comfortable with by saying that's what is "normal" in your kind of relationship.
  • Fear of not being believed or taken seriously. You may worry that if you report abuse, you will encounter common stereotypes like violence between LGBTQ+ partners is always mutual, abuse doesn't occur in lesbian relationships, only the physically bigger partner can be abusive or LGBTQ+ relationships are inherently unhealthy. Your partner may exploit this fear, trying to convince you that no one will take a LGBTQ+ victim seriously. This can happen, but not always. The Campus Victim Advocate at UWO will always take you seriously and can connect you with others who will do the same.
  • Fear of retaliation, harassment, rejection or bullying. If you are not yet out to everyone, your abusive partner may threaten to tell your secret to people who will make your life more difficult once they know. You may also fear that seeking help will make you a target of public ridicule, retaliation, harassment or bullying. Your abusive partner may exploit these fears to isolate you and keep you in the relationship.
  • Good intentions. As part of the LGBTQ+ community, you may fear that disclosing the abuse will make everyone look bad. Your partner may even use this against you, making you feel guilty for getting help. For example, if your partner's not out, they may tell you that you can't report the abuse without breaking their trust, or without breaking the trust of everyone in your group. If this is happening, contact the Campus Victim Advocate who will listen, help you understand what's happening and brainstorm ways to cope.


There are multiple places on campus that can help. Please contact any one or more of these departments listed below:

*Adapted from

Local Hotlines

24-Hr Sexual Assault Hotline
(920) 722-8150
24-Hr Domestic Abuse Hotline
(920) 235-5998

Contact Information
Name: Ciara Hill
Phone: (920) 424-0267
Hours: M-F: 8:30am-4:30pm
Office: Student Success Center, Room 231

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