Men's Health Week: Domestic Violence

Publish Date: 08/06/2012

To coincide with Men’s Health Week The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) will be running a series of articles on the most prevalent health conditions that are affecting gay and bisexual men. Today’s article is focusing on Domestic Violence.

Men's Health Week: Domestic Violence

Around one in four lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives.

This statistic is similar to that experienced by people in heterosexual relationships yet most people think in terms of domestic violence experienced by heterosexual women.

They forget that LGB people live in the same world and experience similar domestic abuse. As a result, domestic violence in LGB communities remains hidden locally, as well as nationally.

“We’d only been going out for a few weeks when it started. First it’d be just phone calls when I was out with my friends. Then it escalated to hiding my travel-card or car keys. Finally she’d turn up at the bars I was in and call me names and put me down in public. I had to speak to someone about it but it was so hard because I’m not out.”

LGB communities are to a large extent in denial about the existence of domestic abuse. Having fought so long for society’s acceptance of homosexual relationships, many don’t want to undermine this with the reality that these relationships are not always healthy. As a result, it can be hard for LGB people to acknowledge they are in an abusive relationship and often even harder to know where to turn to receive the right support and help.

However research consistently shows that abuse does occur and that LGB&T men and women are suffering on a daily basis from their partners, ex-partners or members of their families. Further complicating issues include:

  • lesbians experiencing homophobic abuse from other women in refuges
  • men in particular being reluctant to come forward, and within some gay and bisexual male relationships there is evidence of violence occurring both ways
  • wrongly assuming that no children are involved in LGB relationships
  • gay men, lesbians and bisexuals being victims of forced marriage and/or abused by relatives because of their sexuality. Immigration status can also be an issue
  • the evidence base being weak because there’s a lack of sexual orientation monitoring within public services.

Impact/evidence on LGB people

Whilst comprehensive research into the prevalence and effects of domestic violence within LGB communities remains limited, probably the most focused survey was undertaken by Henderson in 2003. Findings within the report Prevalence of domestic violence among lesbians and gay men found that:

For men

•      one in four gay or bisexual men had suffered some form of recurrent domestic abuse

•      one in six gay or bisexual men had been subjected to domestic physical abuse

•      one in16 gay or bisexual men had been subjected to domestic sexual abuse

•      one in five gay or bisexual men who are victims of domestic abuse have feared for their lives

•      of the men who experience some form of domestic abuse, only one in five will report it

For women

•      one in five lesbian and bisexual women has suffered some form of recurrent domestic abuse

•      one in eight lesbian and bisexual women has been subjected to domestic physical abuse

•      one in 25 lesbian and bisexual women has been subjected to domestic sexual abuse

•      of the women who experience some form of domestic abuse, only one in eight will report it.

The most recent nationwide research to contain insights into domestic violence was conducted by Stonewall amongst over 6,000 lesbian and bisexual (LB) women in their survey Prescription for Change. This discovered that:

•      one in four of all LB women have experienced domestic violence in a relationship. The abuse was both  physical and emotional.

•      one in five said they have been punched or slapped, kicked or bitten by their female partner.

•      Only two in10 reported the abuse to the police.

How is your GP?

The LGF is currently running a survey on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual peoples experiences of their GPs. What we aim to build with your help through this survey is an accurate picture of current healthcare provision by GPs for LGB people which will then form part of a strategy to make sure that GPs are better equipped to acknowledge the needs of their LGB patients. If your are LGB and live in the UK please take 5 minutes to complete this survey by visiting

Referrals/support organisations for Domestic Violence

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation

0845 3 30 30 30


Broken Rainbow

0300 999 5428


National Domestic Volience Helpline

0808 200 0247



Men’s Advice Line

0808 801 0327