Domestic violence includes all acts of violence between people in families or intimate relationships. Many people think of it as the deliberate physical assault of a woman by her male intimate partner (i.e., a spouse, boyfriend). In recent years, society has come to recognize same- sex partners as victims of domestic abuse. The laws in many states protect lesbian and gay couples as well as elders abused by family members, ex-partners, roommates, and dating couples.

Domestic violence, in any relationship, does not only mean physical abuse. In abusive lesbian relationships, the perpetrator may use tactics other than physical violence or sexual assault to maintain power and control over her partner. These tactics include:

Click on the Wheel to see more abuse tactics

IMPORTANT: Emotional and verbal abuse, attempts to isolate and threats and intimidation within a relationship may be warnings that physical abuse will follow. Even if it doesn't, emotional abuse and threats are considered domestic violence.

Domestic violence is recognized as a crime in all states. But abuse victims are often reluctant to testify in court because convictions for domestic violence can be difficult to obtain, and (as stated previously) victims fear retaliation from the abuser.

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