LGBTQ Domestic Violence
When we think of domestic abuse, we typically think of sexual or physical violence. We don’t think of LGBTQ domestic violence, but LGBTQ domestic violence exists and there is help.
Becoming aware of LGBTQ domestic violence
In the stock mental images our brain pulls up, we usually see a woman suffering at the hands of her male partner. While intimate partner violence (IPV) does sometimes play out this way, it isn’t the whole story. The first thing to know is that the rate of LGBTQ domestic violence is the same as in straight couple relationships.
The second misconception to break down is the idea that there must be a physical threat for there to be abuse. Sexual and physical violence certainly leave mental scars, but you can incur brain injury from psychological, verbal or emotional abuse.
Then, there’s financial abuse. Occurring in up to 99% of relationships where violence is present, financial abuse is a way of entrapping your partner so they can’t leave the relationship. All abuse stems from control issues; money just happens to be the tool for control in these instances.
What are the signs of financial abuse?
If physical or sexual violence is present, you’re all but guaranteed to experience financial abuse, as well. That doesn’t mean that your partner has to hurt you physically to hurt you with financial manipulation.
Common signs of financial abuse include:
- Your partner won’t let you work
- Your partner won’t let you seek further education/job training
- Your partner won’t let you control your own finances
- You are left out of financial decisions that would typically be made as a couple or family
- Your partner gives you an allowance and/or makes you ask for money
- Your partner doesn’t let you seek financial education
- Your partner steals your identity
- Your partner threatens to ruin your credit history by withholding the money you need to pay bills that are in your name
- Your partner makes purchases on joint accounts without first discussing it with you
- Your partner forces you to work for them or their business without paying you
- Your partner refuses to contribute to household bills
- Your partner puts bills in your name or takes out loans in your name—and then refuses to help pay them
- Your partner takes your wages or entitlement benefits
- Your partner refuses to contribute to child-related expenses
You can see that while the abuser may be the primary or sole income earner, that isn’t always the case. You could be working 40 hours a week and still be the victim of financial abuse.
Economic and cultural abuses’ intersection in LGBTQ domestic violence
In LGBTQ relationships, there are further potential negative economic consequences of abuse. These take form in cultural or identity abuse.
Cultural/identity abuse as LGBTQ domestic violence include:
- Your partner threatening to out you
- Your partner threatening to broadcast your HIV+ diagnosis
- Your relationship isolating you from the LGBTQ community
- Your partner prevents you from attending support groups
- Your partner blaming the abuse on your gender identity or sexual orientation
- Your partner telling you that abuse is normal in LGBTQ relationships. (That’s a lie. It’s not.)
By exercising control in this way, especially by threatening to out you, your partner is holding a very real economic threat over your head. That’s a unique form of LGBTQ domestic violence because with so many states lacking Non-Discrimination Acts (NDAs) in support of the LGBTQ community, your partner is essentially threatening to put you out of house and home both through discriminatory employment practices and discriminatory housing practices.
Seeking help for LGBTQ domestic violence
You’re not alone, and this isn’t your fault. Abuse doesn’t happen because of your gender identity, sexual orientation or any action you may have taken.
Abuse happens when your partner has control issues. Their issues exist with or without you. It’s as simple as that.
But that doesn’t mean getting out of an abusive relationship is easy. Luckily, there are resources to help. Organizations such as The Network La Red in Boston, The Anti-Violence Project in New York City, and The NW Network in Seattle are some of the biggest organizations that address LGBTQ domestic violence as a part of their mission.
There are others, too. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline to find any such organizations local to you. National Domestic Violence Hotline can also help you find shelters that have completed cultural competency training. Cultural competency training is becoming more common as the Violence Against Women Act was amended in 2013 to provide more protections for LGBTQ survivors.
If you’re suffering from LGBTQ domestic violence, including financial abuse, seek financial education if you’re able. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides free copies of their book in either English or Spanish, Hope & Power for Your Personal Finances, to all survivors.
Femme Frugality is an award-nominated women’s finance blog, which operates on the belief that empathy and financial awareness can lead to empowerment and the betterment of communities. Listen to Femme talk about ending domestic violence, including LGBTQ domestic violence on Queer Money™.