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Domestic Abuse In The LGBTQ+ Community

As we celebrate and honour LGBTQ+ culture and rights this month, it’s important to highlight that survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse (DA) are not a homogenous group. It’s vital that professionals working in this context have a clear understanding that no individual or group are immune against DA and should challenge any pervasive stereotypes and myths in this field.

Research into DA in LGBTQ+ relationships is very limited. A lack of under reporting is believed to skew any data that does exist. Survivors are concerned that if they’re required to disclose their sexuality or gender they may be subjected to discrimination when seeking help. Perpetrators can exert even more control by threatening to disclose their partner’s gender or sexuality to friends, family members or their employer.

A possible root cause of under reporting is shame. It has only been over the last twenty years that legal inequalities in the UK have begun to improve. However, even today, young people learn that not conforming to gender expectations or sexuality can lead to negativity, shame and sometimes serious retribution from friends, family and society. Connection and attachment are a fundamental requirement to survival and mental wellbeing. Shame, a lack of self-worth and self-loathing make individuals more susceptible to DA.

Prolonged and repeated domestic abuse is extremely traumatising, experienced in isolation and secrecy. Evidence suggests that a large percentage of survivors of DA experience PTSD. Terror and fear can seriously impair physiological, neurobiological and cognitive functioning. Survivors experiencing trauma bonding with their partner, can exhibit hopelessness and the ability to leave.

Counselling can provide a safe space for survivors to make sense of their experiences. Psychoeducation can be key in helping someone understand symptoms as normal responses to extreme circumstances. As well as coping strategies to minimise their effects. Survivors should be given the opportunity to mourn losses which can encompass physical, psychological and material.

The therapeutic relationship can model a healthy connection, helping the survivor to reconnect with themselves and encourage the healing process. Survivors can then rebuild their lives with self-agency and begin to build healthier relationships without fear of abuse.

If you’d like to learn more about our counselling and coaching service and how we can support you, then please visit our webpage. We also offer a free 60-minute initial consultation.