Studies on abuse between gay male or lesbian partners usually rely on small convenience samples such as lesbian or gay male members of an association. In their study, there was a victimization prevalence of Due to forms of discrimination , homophobia , and heterosexism , and the belief that heterosexuality is normative within society, domestic violence has been characterized as being between the male perpetrator and the female victim.
Further, the fear of reinforcing negative stereotypes could lead some community members, activists, and victims to deny the extent of violence among lesbians.
The main goal of activists is to legitimize lesbian domestic violence as real abuse and validate the experience of its victims. Many different factors play into this, such as "different definitions of domestic violence, non-random, self selected and opportunistic sampling methods often organisation or agency based, or advertising for participants who have experienced violence and different methods and types of data collected".
This has caused rates of violence in lesbian relationships to range from 17 to 73 percent as of the s, being too large of a scale to accurately determine the pervasiveness of lesbian abuse in the community. This is "a consequence of the invisibility of such violence and fear of homophobic reactions". Popular approaches mainly discuss "the comparability of violence in lesbian and gay male relationships same sex violence, or draw on feminist theories of gendered power relations, comparing domestic violence between lesbians and heterosexual women".
Findings from studies have shown that slapping was most the commonly reported form of abuse, while beatings and assaults with weapons were less frequent. The most frequent type included forced kissing, breast, and genital fondling, and oral, anal, or vaginal penetration. Eighty percent of victims reported psychological abuse and verbal abuse. Lesbians are also less likely to use physical force or threats than gay men.
Also homophobia is an important factor in shaping the experience of domestic violence in lesbian relationships. This may cause a general distaste or negative conception of the lesbian identity, both of oneself and others. This behavior is described as horizontal hostility, or minority groups becoming hostile or violent toward each other.
In the case of domestic violence in lesbian relationships, this hostility is perpetuated in the form of intimate partner abuse.
These negative feelings are then acted out in the form of lesbian battering. Also women fear that they might suffer from isolation, risk of losing their job, housing or family as consequences to homophobia and internalized homophobia. This form of abuse could result in a variety of negative consequences for the victim, such as being shunned by family members and the loss of children, a job, and housing. In fearing isolation due to homophobia, lesbians also experience the phenomenon of living in the "second closet", or that they must keep both their sexualities and experiences with domestic violence hidden from others due to fear of negative repercussions.
This can also translate into how the couple raise potential children and implement discipline. Abusive power and control Domestic violence in lesbian relationships happens for many reasons. Domestic violence can occur due to control. Violence is most frequently employed as a tactic for achieving interpersonal power or control over their partner.
The alienation and isolation imposed by internalized and external oppression may construct loss of control, and the need to reclaim it becomes the central concern for lesbians. Lesbians may be denied control over numerous aspects of their lives. The perpetrator of violence in an intimate relationship can also threaten their partner to abduct their children if only one has legal custody of their children. Lesbians who report more frequent use of violent tactics in conflict with their partner will report a higher level of dependency as a personality trait.
Dependency in lesbian relationships is also a result of female-specific socialization. A study found that lesbians are more likely to spend free time at home than homosexual men are. Women may assume that spending time away from their partner would make them upset or angry. Without proper communication, improper management of time may lead to unhealthy discourse within a relationship, and partner equality remains difficult to maintain.
Low self-esteem and a negative self-image are qualities that characterize both perpetrators and victims of heterosexual domestic violence. The jealousy and the possessiveness that are frequently linked to battering behavior are associated with problems of low self-esteem and negative self-concept. Lesbians who report more frequent use of violent tactics in conflicts with their partners will report a lower level of self-esteem as a personality trait. The perpetrator of violence in an abusive relationship is often assumed to be male, while the victim of the violence is assumed to be straight.