Intimate partner violence: IPV in the LGBT community

Ping-Hsin Chen, Abbie Jacobs, Susan L D Rovi
FP Essentials 2013, 412: 28-35
Nationally, the rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) among lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) individuals are similar to or greater than rates for heterosexuals. Many have experienced psychological and physical abuse as sexual minorities, making it difficult for them to seek help for IPV. Physician behavior, such as not assuming that all patients are heterosexual, being nonjudgmental, and using inclusive language, can empower LGBT patients to disclose IPV. Also, physicians should ascertain the degree to which the patient is out. The threat of being outed can be an aspect of the power and control exerted by an abusive partner and a significant barrier to seeking help. Physicians should screen for IPV and intervene in a similar manner with LGBT and non-LGBT patients, but they should be aware of potential limitations in resources for LGBT patients, such as shelters. As sexual minorities experiencing IPV, LGBT individuals are at greater risk of depression and substance abuse than are non-LGBT individuals. Minority stress, resulting from stigmatization and discrimination, can be exacerbated by IPV. Physicians should learn about legal issues for LGBT individuals and the availability of community or advocacy programs for LGBT perpetrators or victims of IPV.

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