Homosexual Battering Versus Straight Battering

Adapted from the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women’s Lesbian Battering Manual

Here are some facts about domestic violence in lesbian relationships:

  • It is a mistake to assume that all homosexual relationships are based on “femme” and “butch” pairings, or that an abusive lesbian or gay man must be the “masculine” one.
  • A homosexual relationship can be just as physically violent as a male/female partnering can be.
  • Hotline and domestic violence shelter staff can often unwittingly ostracize lesbians by automatically using “he” when referring to the batterer and not providing literature that includes information for battered lesbians.


  •  No one deserves to be abused.
  • Abuse can be physical, sexual, verbal behavior designed to coerce or humiliate, or emotional or psychological.
  • Abuse can be lethal.
  • The purpose of the abuse is to maintain control and power over one’s partner.

  • The abused feels isolated, afraid, and usually convinced that the abuse was somehow her fault or could have been avoided if only she had known what to do.


  • Homosexuals who have been abused have much more difficulty finding appropriate support than straight women.
  • The myth prevails that homosexual abuse must be “mutual.” No one assumes straight abuse is mutual.
  • Utilizing existing services is tantamount to “coming out” and is a major decision.
  • Support services and friends often minimize lesbian violence for several reasons: because the lesbian community doesn’t want to destroy the myth of a “lesbian utopia”; because the lesbian movement doesn’t want to destroy their myth that “all violence is caused by men”; because it is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that the size of a person has anything to do with battering.
  • To complain about homosexual abuse is to reinforce the stereotype that lesbians and gays are “sick.”
  • Lesbians and gays have to face not only the sexist culture, but also homophobic ones as well. A woman of color faces sexism, homophobia, AND racism.
  • Gay and lesbian communities are small and, in all likelihood, everyone the survivor knows will soon know of her or his abuse.