Teen Dating Violence in Gay and Straight Relationships
Teen dating violence is a serious problem. According to the the organization Love is Respect 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.
Most experts agree that the rate of domestic violence among same sex couples is similar to rates of violence against women by men, and that abusive GLBT relationships have similar power imbalances and control issues to those found in straight relationships.
One difference, however, is that GLBT teens may be even less likely to report dating violence than are straight teens. This can happen if a teen is afraid of being outed, or is worried about confronting homophobic police or service providers.
Myths About Dating Violence
Unfortunately, plenty of folks still believe that dating violence is only something that happens to females at the hands of male partners.
Other myths about dating violence include:
- Violence is more common in opposite sex relationships than it is in same-sex relationships.
- If a gay couple fights, even if it gets physical, it isn't a big deal because being the same sex, they are on equal ground.
- A physically bigger partner will always be the abuser and the smaller partner, the victim.
- If a gay person reports domestic abuse, it is likely to just be a case where a sexual encounter got out of hand.
These myths are damaging enough alone. But when they are combined with the notion that domestic or dating violence is an "adult" problem, the result is that many young GLBT victims of intimate partner abuse feel that they have nowhere to turn for help.
Help for Gay Teen Victims
Luckily, there are organizations out there that can help GLBT victims of dating violence. A great place to start is the New York based Anti-Violence Project, which is "dedicated to eliminating hate violence, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities."
Other good resources include, the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project and The Network for Battered Lesbians & Bisexual Women.