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What should same-sex couples know about domestic violence?

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of social or financial status, race, gender and sexual orientation. You and other Texas residents should know that those in same-sex marriages are also vulnerable to intimate partner violence. In fact, some studies have shown that those in the LGBTQ community may be more prone to experiencing domestic violence and less likely to seek or get help than heterosexuals.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, studies suggest lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to have experienced sexual assault, physical violence and stalking by a romantic partner than straight women. You may also find it disturbing to learn that 45% of LGBTQ victims do not report domestic violence to authorities because they think they will not receive help.

The LGBTQ community experiences other problems related to domestic violence that are unique to their situations. As you may know, abusive partners may use the threat of “outing” their partner to continue the abuse or to prevent their partner from seeking help. Victims also might not be able to receive domestic violence services or assistance because of homophobia or because there are no shelters available for homosexual men or transgender women, when abuse shelters are usually made for cisgender women.

You deserve to live in a safe environment, regardless of your sexual orientation. You may need to seek additional services from LGBTQ-friendly community centers and advocates if law enforcement and traditional domestic violence programs have failed you. This information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.