June is Pride Month, and we celebrate all healthy and happy relationships, including relationships with gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans* people. Being a young person in a same-sex relationship should be as healthy and loving as a heterosexual relationship. However, LGBTQ relationships experience similar rates of dating violence to heterosexual relationships.
If you know someone who is in a same-sex relationship or someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans* experiencing abusive behaviors in a relationship, here are some ways you can help:
- Remember that dating violence can happen just as frequently in same-sex relationships as in straight relationships. Know the warning signs of dating abuse, and keep them in mind with all your friends who are dating someone.
- There’s a myth that in a same sex relationship, people wouldn’t use abusive behaviors because they’re the same sex. However, that’s not what makes a person use abusive behaviors in the first place -- the need for power and control are. Someone who is more “butch” or “masculine” in a same-sex relationship is also not an indicator of abuse.
- There’s another myth that gay men are more effeminate and not as violent, or that women are not violent and therefore are never abusive. Neither is true. Women can be as violent as men, and gay men can be just as abusive to their partners as men in straight relationships.
- Sometimes, it can be harder for gay men to ask for help because men are usually socialized to take care of problems on their own instead of asking for help. Although women comprise the majority of sexual assault survivors, men also suffer from sexual assault. And there are fewer resources for men experiencing dating abuse.
- There are unique challenges young people experiencing abuse in LGBTQ relationships may have to face, like fewer survivor resources or a lack of support from their family or friends.
- Abusers may use a person’s identity as a way to control the relationship. For example, the partner using abusive behaviors may threaten to “out” the other partner’s sexual or gender identity.
- Always let anyone suffering from dating violence know that those behaviors are never a normal part of relationship, gay or straight.
- Abuse is never okay, and no one deserves abuse. The abuse is not their fault, regardless of their sexual or gender identity.
- Listen to them and help them out by being there for them.
- Be supportive and respectful. Instead of criticizing the partner using abusive behaviors, explain you’re concerned for their well-being.
- Make sure they know their rights. Just because there are challenges doesn’t mean they do not have legal rights. The American Bar Association offers a wonderful cheat sheet on LGBTQ rights in relationships.
- If necessary, work with them to develop a safety plan.
Our peer advocates at loveisrespect are on call 24/7 in case you or someone you know wants to talk. Call 1-866-331-9474, chat online, or text “loveis” to 22522 to speak to someone. Remember, everyone deserves a healthy relationship, including everyone in the LGBTQ community.