October 1, 2020

Tactics of Abuse in LGBTQ+ Relationships

Intimate partner abuse happens when one person uses physical or psychological means to control their partner’s thoughts, beliefs or actions. This type of abuse has real consequences, including physical, sexual, emotional and financial harm.

Intimate partner abuse may occur in gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning relationships just as it can in heterosexual relationships. One in four LGBTQ+ individuals is abused by their partner; one in four women and one in seven men experience intimate partner abuse in their lifetime.

Common Elements of Abusive Behavior

·       The abuser may engage in verbal, sexual or physical behavior to coerce, control and dominate their partner.

·       The abuser may use the children in the family to further the abuse.

·       The abuser may try to isolate their partner, keep them in fear and blame the abuse on them.

·       The abuser often escalates their violent or manipulative behavior when their partner wants to end the relationship.

Common Tactics of Abuse

1. Outing

When people are first coming out, they may be afraid of losing their jobs, friends, family or being alienated from their cultural, religious, ethnic and other groups. The fear of isolation that the person is experiencing is useful to their abusive partner. The abuser may threaten to oust them as a means of control; they may follow through with the outing as a form of punishment.

2. Economic abuse

Identity theft, using economic status to establish roles in the relationship, getting the survivor fired or impersonating the survivor and calling in to quit a job all qualify as financial abuse.

3. Verbal/emotional abuse using harmful words and stereotyping

The abuser might use harmful stereotypes against their partner, such as saying they don’t look like the gender with which their partner identifies. They may also call their partner homophobic or transphobic slurs. Gaslighting is another form of emotional abuse.

4. Emotional blackmail

An abuser may use their own vulnerabilities to obligate their partner to stay and care for them, prioritizing the abuser’s needs. This results in the survivor being exploited and unable to set boundaries or prioritize themselves.

5. Using children against the partners

In states where a non-biological parent has fewer or no legal rights, the abuser can threaten to deny the partner contact with their children. Even in states where LGBTQ+ people have legal parental rights, not all individuals have access to the systems that can help them assert their legal rights

6. Using their communities against the partner

An abuser may use friends or family and other shared communities to monitor their partner or to exclude--or threaten to exclude--them. This may result in the survivor leaving their communities to avoid seeing the abuser, leading to social isolation.

7. Sexual coercion

The abuser may pressure their partner into sexual activity with which they aren’t comfortable and tell their partner that there’s no help for them, that no one will believe them because of their sexual orientation and/or identity.

8. Physical abuse

Pushing, hitting, punching, strangulation and other forms of bodily harm are perhaps the most commonly thought of. However, this type of abuse can also include restricting medical access, withholding prescriptions or hormones, controlling food and locking in or out of the house.

If you or a loved one needs help exiting or recovering from an abusive relationship, Communicare is here for you.

We can help you secure emergency shelter now and more long-term housing when you’re ready, as well as therapy and other support to help you recover from this type of trauma. Please contact us at 662-234-7521.