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Domestic violence affects opposite and same-sex partners alike

Photo of Karen Lavin

Changes in the law have made it possible for same-sex partners to enjoy many of the same rights as heterosexual couples. Underneath the joy that these new laws have brought to gay and lesbian couples, a dark side lies hidden. It is the same darkness that some couples of all genders and races have had to deal with over their lifetimes — domestic violence.

To members of the non-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, it may appear that same-sex partners are so happy and content. However, like all couples, they can have more than a fair share of pain and tragedy. Reportedly, gay and bisexual men experience a two out of five rate of abuse in their same-sex relationships. This is about the same rate heterosexual women experience in their intimate relationships. The same report estimates that about half of the women in the lesbian community have experienced, or will in the future suffer from, domestic violence.

As you can see, abuse and domestic violence are sometimes unfortunate occurrences in relationships of all types. Examples of the kind of abuse victims may experience include:

-- Physical violence

-- Forced sexual contact

-- Verbal abuse and emotional attacks

-- Threats to reveal a person's sexual preferences

-- Threats to reveal that a person is suffering from HIV/AIDS

The truly sad element is that many members of the LGBT community believe that domestic violence is a gender-based issue and that it cannot happen to non-heterosexual couples. This is not true; anyone can suffer from domestic violence. But help is available, and those in need can seek remedies through a family law attorney. If you live in Illinois and are a victim of domestic violence by your same-sex partner, you should take steps to protect yourself right away.

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, "Domestic Violence and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Relationships," accessed June 06, 2016

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