WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

About Abuse


Updated: September 12, 2018

What forms of abuse are unique to LGBTQ victims?

Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse can occur in any type of relationship, but some other types of abuse are unique to LGBTQ individuals. Here are some of the ways that abusers gain power and control over LGBTQ victims:

  • threatening to “out” the victim or reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • telling the victim that no one will help them or that they deserve the abuse because of their gender identity or sexual orientation;
  • denying the victim’s identity by saying that at some point their behavior or identity did not conform to the abuser’s definition of any label the victim chooses to use (e.g., saying to a man, “You’ve had a relationship with a woman, so you’re not really gay.”);
  • telling the victim that the abuse is a “normal” part of a same-sex relationship;
  • telling the victim that the abuse cannot be domestic violence because it is taking place between LGBTQ individuals; and
  • claiming that the abuse is an expression of some “desirable” trait within LGBTQ relationships (e.g., “This is just me being butch, which is why you like me”).1

Along with general resources for domestic violence victims, there are places where LGBTQ victims of abuse can find help specific to their needs. For a list of local and national resources that are LGBTQ-friendly, please see our National Organizations / LGBTQ page.

Note: This information is based on materials for LGBTQ people. For information on forms of abuse unique to intersex or asexual victims, please see What forms of abuse are unique to intersex victims? and What forms of abuse are unique to asexual victims?

1 This information was adapted from the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s LGBTQ Relationship Violence page.