Before the invention of the term ‘homosexuality’ in 1869, Anne Lister saw her love and desire for women as a defining characteristic. She . . . considered her attraction to women natural, and proclaimed proudly that ‘I love, & only love, the fairer sex & thus beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any other love than theirs.’ (Rupp, 2009, p. 395)
In her article “Loving Women in the Modern World”, Rupp sheds light on the varied relationship styles through history and up to modern day, of lesbian women. It seems the relationship boundaries and courting procedures of the women discussed are as unique as the individuals themselves. This is not unlike heterosexual couples. Interestingly, there is current and ongoing research into particular aspects of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBT&Q) relationships and their similarities to heterosexual couples. An area of interest to discuss is the similarities in occurrences of domestic violence.
“The rates of domestic violence in same-gender relationships is roughly the same as domestic violence against heterosexual women” (AARDVARC, 2008). A quick Google search of the topic will yield various advocate websites, support groups, scholarly journals, and blogs. A bona fide social issue, intimate partner violence in the LGBT&Q community is shrouded in mystery as the scientific community has only scratched the surface with research in the last 20 years. Understanding the similarities and differences of same-sex partner violence and heterosexual partner violence is the key to unraveling the myths and enacting programs of greatest support for survivors.
Regarding current research of LGBT&Q intimate partner violence, McClennen (2005) found: “The inability to receive helpful, responsive professional services and protection contributes to victims’ maintaining long-term relationships with their perpetrators, as they remain silent about their abuse” ( p. 151). Clearly, this data must be used to tailor support and outreach programs to the LGBT&Q community.
Also, Hester (2009) found “gay men were significantly more likely to use physically and sexually abusive behaviors” (p.171) compared to lesbian women in the study. “Regarding impact, lesbians were significantly more likely to be affected by emotionally and sexually abusive behavior.” This group also stated a majority opinion that the abuse made them want to change the problem behaviors for their partner (Hester, 2009, p. 171). Essentially, the data recorded by Hester and Donovan (2009) “appear to reflect wider processes of gendering and gendered-norms” (p.171).
This news is alarming to me as a woman hell-bent on relieving our society of such prevalence of domestic violence, and intimate partner abuse. Does the old patriarchal view of oppression still apply? Am I a victim of intimate partner violence simply because I’m statistically predisposed? What answers can we find to not only help victims and survivors, but to actually stop the violence.
AARDVARC.org Inc. (2008, September 24). An Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection. General format. Retrieved from http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/gay.shtml
Hester, M. and Donovan, C. (2009). 'Researching Domestic Violence in Same-Sex Relationships — A Feminist Epistemological Approach to Survey Development', Journal of Lesbian Studies, 13: 2, 161 —173. doi: 10.1080/10894160802695346.
McClennen, J. (2005). Domestic violence between same-gender partners: Recent findings and future research. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20: 149-154. doi: 10.1177/0886260504268762.
Rupp, L. (2009). Loving women in the modern world. In V. Taylor, N. Whittier & L. Rupp (Eds.) Feminist Frontiers (pp.389-399). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.