Gay And Lesbian Intimate Partner Abuse

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Explain the dynamics involved in gay and lesbian intimate partner abuse

Explain the dynamics involved in gay and lesbian intimate partner abuse


Same-sex abuse is composed of a pattern of violent or coercive behaviors whereby a gay man or a lesbian tries “to control the thoughts, beliefs, or conduct of [his] or her intimate partner or to punish the intimate for resisting the perpetrator's control” Hart (1986: 173). Until the mid-1980s, little, if any, attention was given to abuse in same-sex relationships. The domestic violence movement focused largely on abuse in heterosexual relationships, and social service providers, such as the staffs of crisis hotlines and shelters, identified women battered by men as their target client population. However, as more gay and lesbian survivors of intimate partner abuse spoke out about their experiences, researchers and activists, both homosexual and heterosexual, began to learn more about the problem and to develop prevention and intervention strategies to address it.(Girshick,2002)

Historically, domestic violence referred to the physical, emotional, psychological, and/or verbal mistreatment of a husband or wife, usually of a wife by her husband. Over the years, society began to recognize that other types of domestic living arrangements, including same-sex couples, were equally vulnerable to in-home violence. Violence perpetrated by one partner against the other in an intimate relationship, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, is a complex phenomenon that exists in all economic, racial, ethnic, and age groups. However, there are significant differences between same-sex and opposite-sex domestic violence with respect to the source and dynamics of the violence, as well as in the legal response. Understanding these differences is necessary for effectively remedying the problem.(Younglove,2008)

Nature And Extent Of Same-Sex Domestic Violence

In the United States, lesbian and gay male couples are not allowed legally to marry (although in some states, they enjoy very limited, marriage-like privileges through recent domestic partner registration laws).(Letellier,2007) As a result, their relationships have been expressly or implicitly excluded from the reach of domestic violence legislation, and violence in a same-sex household has been treated instead as criminal assault or battery. Domestic violence laws, however, afford a higher level of protection against continuing violence. Among the advantages is that many laws require the perpetrator to undergo counseling. Also, a restraining order for domestic violence is more readily obtainable. Over time, same-sex relationship advocates have successfully pushed for similar protections, and presently, domestic violence laws in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia expressly provide for law enforcement response to same-sex domestic violence.

At the same time, at least nine of these states retain antisodomy laws, so that in many cases, a same-sex partner must first admit to committing a crime before seeking protection, although prosecution does not necessarily follow. Although individual definitions vary from state to state, sodomy as used here refers to all sexual activity other than sexual intercourse between a male and a female, and it includes sexual activity engaged in by lesbians and gay men. In Bowers ...
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