Family violence in an LGBTIQ context
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) people are not only more likely to experience family violence but less likely to recognise, report and receive appropriate support in response. Dr Kate O’Halloran presents a summary of issues arising out of submissions to the Royal Commission into Family Violence (excerpt of full article).
The recently held Royal Commission into Family Violence provided a much-needed opportunity to address gaps within the sector.
One clear issue that emerged was that, at present, family violence is treated within a binarygender model of male perpetrator and female victim, often in the context of a heterosexual relationship. As pointed out in the submission by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL), such an approach is insufficient and ‘inappropriate in addressing domestic violence in LGBTI relationships’.
It is understandable why such a framework exists. As noted in the joint submission to the Royal Commission by Safe Steps and No To Violence (NTV): Women are at least 6 times more likely than men to be the victim of physical assault by a current or former partner, 24 times more likely than men to become homeless due to experiencing intimate partner violence; and a woman’s experience of intimate partner violence is associated with substantially more fear and severity than men’s.
Accordingly, and in practice, most mainstream services adopt a feminist approach that insists that family violence is rooted in patriarchal and systemic gendered inequality. Often, however, this defaults to an exclusive focus on heterosexual intimate partner violence that, according to the VGLRL submission, results in ‘LGBTI groups being rendered invisible’. Crucially, this means that ‘some people in abusive relationships will not recognise it as such and therefore may not seek help’.
The barriers towards appropriately addressing family violence in an LGBTIQ context are numerous. They begin with limited statistical data on the prevalence of such violence. Data collected by mainstream services at national and state level on intimate partner violence ‘omits sexuality indicators, making it very difficult for researchers and policy makers to consider evidence for, and design programs in response to, issues affecting GLBT populations’ (ACON 2011).
What data has specifically been collected on the LGBTIQ community, however, suggests that rates of intimate partner violence are either equal to, or higher than, those of family violence between non-LGBTIQ people (ACON 2009).
Dr Kate O’Halloran is a trainer at DVRCV.