Domestic Violence On The Rise Among Same-Sex Couples

The fact that more and more states in the U.S. and even more countries around the world are beginning to embrace the right for same-sex couples to marry is a testament to the progress of humanity. Same-sex couples, who have long fought brave and hard to receive equal recognition, are beginning to reap the rewards of the fight. Supporters are growing by the minute and policies are being realigned to accommodate and acknowledge the marital rights of gay and lesbian people.

However, the struggle doesn’t end there. Through media exposure and constant public support, external problems regarding same-sex relationships are diminishing faster than ever in history. Sadly, there is a looming problem within the LGBT community that hasn’t been fully addressed yet. People often forget that same-sex relationships are just like every type of romantic relationships; it can be genuine and heartwarming, but it’s also susceptible to human shortcomings, errors, and abuse.

There is recent evidence that suggests the frequency of domestic violence among same-sex couples is on the rise. According to Northwestern University scientists, the occurrence of domestic violence among same-sex couples is becoming as frequent, if not more frequent, than heterosexual relationships. Science Daily reported Friday (September 19) about a meta-analysis of previous studies conducted on domestic violence among LGBT couples, and revealed that 25 percent to 75 percent of gays and lesbians involved in same-sex relationships have experienced or have been affected by domestic violence. In fact, the numbers are already conservatively estimated. According to experts, LGBT couples tend to under-report abuse and violence, making it possible for the actual numbers to go higher than previously mentioned. In comparison, one in every four heterosexual women report domestic violence, while rates for heterosexual men are significantly lower.

Richard Carroll, a psychologist for Northwestern Memorial Hospital, offered an explanation for the surprising statistics.

“Domestic violence is exacerbated because same-sex couples are dealing with the additional stress of being a sexual minority. This leads to reluctance to address domestic violence issues.”

Carroll noted that researches on domestic violence among same-sex couples have been sparse, blaming the tendency of behavioral studies to focus on heterosexual couples when studying these types of interpersonal phenomenon and the stigma that is still attached with being a part of the sexual minority.

“There has been a lot of research on domestic violence but it hasn’t looked as carefully at the subgroup of same-sex couples. Another obstacle is getting the appropriate samples because of the stigma that has been attached to sexual orientation. In the past, individuals were reluctant to talk about it.”

The review, written by Colleen Stiles-Shields, will be published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.

[Image from Alex Torres/Flickr]