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About Abuse


Updated: September 12, 2018

What forms of abuse are unique to intersex victims?

Intersex victims of abuse may face specific forms of abuse because they are intersex. In addition to “traditional” forms of abuse and the abuse described in What forms of abuse are unique to LGBTQ victims?, intersex people are vulnerable to abuse based on ignorance or bigotry about their bodies. Intersex victims of domestic violence face similar or higher rates of domestic violence when compared to the general population. In one study from 2007, 50% of intersex victims of domestic violence reported being raped by a romantic partner.1 Here are some of the behaviors abusers may use to gain power and control over intersex victims:

  • threatening to tell the victim’s friends, family, or coworkers that they are intersex without their permission;
  • pressuring the victim to behave in a way that conforms to specific gender stereotypes;
  • pressuring the victim to take medications or have surgeries to change their body to conform to a specific set of sexual characteristics;
  • telling the victim that they are not a specific sexual orientation (for instance, that they are not gay) because they are intersex; and
  • accusing the victim of “tricking” the abuser because the victim’s body does not look like what the abuser thinks a person of that gender should look like.

For more information and support on intersex issues, please see the Intersex Society of North America.

1LGBTQ Communities and Domestic Violence,” National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
2 This information has been adapted from Intersex Human Rights Australia.