Stress, Stigma Increase Domestic Violence in Same-Sex Couples

A man apologizes to his distressed partnerStudies revealing the prevalence of domestic violence in intimate partnerships have traditionally focused on opposite-sex relationships while domestic violence issues among same-sex couples have remained far less understood. A new review of literature from Northwestern Medicine attempts to address domestic violence among LGBT couples. According to previous studies, domestic violence may be even more common among same-sex couples, with between 25% and 75% of same-sex couples experiencing some degree of domestic violence. The authors of the review believe that the additional stress and stigma same-sex couples face may contribute to relationship violence.

Stress and Domestic Violence

Members of oppressed groups tend to experience higher levels of stress due to the additional challenges of facing societal oppression. This is known as the minority stress model. Researchers found a higher rate of domestic violence among same-sex couples, and believe that the stress of life as a minority might help explain the increase in violence. Same-sex couples may experience violence and bullying in the outside world, for example, along with judgment for their relationships or ostracism by friends and family. Depending on where they live, same-sex couples may also have fewer rights than heterosexual couples.

Previous studies have looked primarily at lesbian relationships, but this review of literature found domestic violence among gay, lesbian, and bisexual couples. Among heterosexual couples, women are more frequently victimized by acts of intimate partner violence than men. Among men victimized by domestic violence, the stigma of victimization may inhibit victims’ willingness to report, the study’s authors explain. Men may not want to view themselves as victims or admit to having been victimized. Same-sex couples may also fear being involuntarily “outed” when they report abuse.

Each of these factors may lead to under-reporting among LGBT couples, and the authors of the review emphasize that medical providers need to be mindful of domestic violence among same-sex couples. Such awareness can equip them to intervene when they suspect abuse.


Extra stress in same-sex couples may raise risk of domestic abuse. (2014, September 23). Retrieved from 

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  • MallorY

    September 24th, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    I can only imagine the shame and the hurt that is felt within a relationship when the make is thew victim of the violence. That in no way demeans the pain felt when a female experiences that but this is something that you don’t usually hear about so when it does happen I think that a man is much more likely to wish to hide it. What will other guys say about them? How emasculating this has to be when a woman or another man in the relationship beats up on you and takes all of their anger and frustration out on you? A man, supposedly, should be able to take up for himself but they could find themselves in a scenario where this is not a paossibility and just like any other abusive relationship they could feel very helpless when it coems to getting out.

  • rich

    September 25th, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    And until now it would be difficult to let anyone know just because of the stigma that is associated with being a part of a couple that does not necessarily meet societal norms

  • Genevieve

    September 26th, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    What confuses me even more about this is that thesea re probably couples who have had to work very hard to find their place in this world, and now that are encountering still so much anger and violence but now it is in their own homes instead of outside in society.

    I am sure that when this occurs there still has to be a sense of frustration over the hardships that together as a couple they have had to endure.

    At the same time though this si no excuse for treating another person this way. It is not fair to them and it is not fair to the family as a whole, and it is also doing no one any good in helping to advance the cause of accxeptance for same sex relationships.

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