Bisexual Women at Greater Risk of Domestic Abuse...but Why? And What Can We Do About it?
Published: 17 September 2018 Tags: By James Harris
Though LGBT people are already at heightened risk of physical and sexual violence, according to a recent global United Nations report, LBT (lesbian, bisexual and trans) women are at significantly greater risk of domestic abuse from a partner than other members of LGBT communities. Here we discuss the statistics and explore why such a shocking health inequality exists, and how we can try to change it.
More than 1 in 10 bisexual women (10.8%) experienced abuse at the hands of a partner in the last year, compared to 6% of heterosexual women. Gay or lesbian women were also more likely to experience this type of abuse at 8.2%.
One survey even found that 61% of bisexual women and 37% of bisexual men had been raped, endured physical violence or been stalked by a partner. Other (UK-based studies) describe how bisexual women are almost five times as likely to experience sexual abuse and twice as likely to experience stalking, compared with heterosexual women. Additionally, as revealed by the recent Government National LGBT Survey, bisexual people reported being less happy with their lives (63% happy) than gay or lesbian people (69% happy.)
The Independent raises awareness of a crucial consideration:
“Bisexual people are often called ‘the invisible minority’ within LGBT communities, and despite many studies saying bisexual (people) make up half of the community, bi and pansexual issues are seemingly underfunded or not funded at all.”
Clearly the bi community should be receiving more of our attention, because, as the statistics indicate, neglecting to fully acknowledge bisexuality as a valid, distinct sexual identity can result in neglecting to fully deal with the particular difficulties they face.
LGBT Foundation offers support for those who identify as bisexual, or think they might be but are unsure, and recognises the importance of clearly distinguishing bisexuality from homosexuality, and of acknowledging a bisexual person’s specific needs.
So why does being a bisexual woman make you more at risk of domestic abuse from a partner?
Researcher Dr Nicole Johnson explains:
“The media, and pornography in particular, have long depicted women’s bisexuality as less about sexual agency and more about the pleasure of straight men, which may result in the dehumanisation and objectification of bisexual women, resulting in increased acceptance of violence [against them].”
“One stereotype of bisexuals consistent with biphobia is that we are not to be trusted [promiscuous], which has been linked to intimate partner violence, including sexual violence.”
Her arguments are convincing, and should be taken seriously if these health inequalities are to be properly addressed. The fetishisation of lesbianism through the heterosexual male gaze, and the subsequent appeal this applies to bisexual women (“a woman sexually interested in other women who I can have sex with”) seemingly influences this increased risk of domestic abuse.
According to The Independent, one young woman who was raped by her ex-boyfriend during university, says he fetishized her identity, and “regularly expressed his desire for threesomes, even though I’d told him I had no interest.”
We need to stop objectifying women. We need to acknowledge the harm of regarding lesbianism as a source of heterosexual male gratification. We need to improve our attitudes towards all bisexual identities– and shake off the persistent misconceptions of promiscuity and over-sexualisation that cloud understanding (and therefore acceptance) of what should really be a straightforward concept: some people are romantically/sexually attracted to both their own and other sexes/genders, and this isn’t a contradiction.
Regardless of the reasons why LBT women are more at risk of domestic abuse, the main concern is that we recognise the significance of the problem and provide appropriate support where needed.
If you feel you may be experiencing domestic abuse, LGBT Foundation offers a Domestic Abuse Support Service: https://lgbt.foundation/how-we-can-help-you/domestic-abuse. We also offer a Talking Therapies services https://lgbt.foundation/talkingtherapies.
Additionally, you might want to subscribe to national bi-focused magazines like www.BiCommunityNews.co.uk or get involved with local, Manchester-based bi-focused organisations like www.biphoria.org.uk