Barriers to Help Seeking for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

Jenna M Calton, Lauren Bennett Cattaneo, Kris T Gebhard
Trauma, Violence & Abuse 2016, 17 (5): 585-600
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pervasive and devastating social problem that is estimated to occur in one of every four opposite-sex relationships and at least one of every five same-sex romantic relationships. These estimates may not represent violence against those who identify as transgender or genderqueer, and very little comprehensive research has been conducted on IPV within these populations. One statewide study on IPV found rates of IPV were as high as one of every two transgender individuals. In order to cope with the effects of abuse or leave an abusive partner, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and genderqueer (LGBTQ) IPV survivors seek support from others. However, LGBTQ IPV survivors may experience unique difficulties related to their sexual orientation and gender identity when seeking assistance. This article reviews the literature on LGBTQ IPV and suggests three major barriers to help-seeking exist for LGBTQ IPV survivors: a limited understanding of the problem of LGBTQ IPV, stigma, and systemic inequities. The significance and consequences of each barrier are discussed, and suggestions for future research, policy, and practice are provided.

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