VICTIMS: If you are in an abusive relationship, seek help. Local battered women’s hotlines can be a great resource for battered lesbians. You can also call local lesbian/gay hotlines for referrals to hotlines, counselors, therapists and support groups. When seeking a therapist, make sure (1) the therapist is knowledgeable of domestic violence issues and (2) the therapist is Lesbian-friendly (also consult Dr. Love’s guideline when choosing a therapist). Victims should also turn to trustworthy friends and family if applicable.

OFFENDERS: If you think you fit the profile of an abuser (i.e., if you have engaged in behavior that you believe might have crossed the line) you are probably correct. Seek the assistance of an appropriate counselor immediately. Do not attempt to control your behavior alone or in isolation. If you can recognize that you might have a problem, give yourself permission to get assistance.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY: If you know of someone in an abusive relationship, there are ways you can help. Acknowledging that domestic violence and abuse exist within lesbian relationships is the first step towards helping victims and perpetrators of abuse. Oppression of lesbians within our society often leads lesbians to look to the lesbian community as a safe and protective haven from a hateful and ignorant world - perhaps providing the only sense of family some lesbians have. This often means that lesbians who batter go unchallenged, and their victims unprotected. Indeed, some lesbian batterers may be well known within the lesbian community but are able to continue their behavior because others fear they would be betraying the community (i.e., their “family”) by revealing the "secret".

Be willing to break the silence! You can:
  1. help the victim identify the abuse in her relationship
  2. assure her that it is not “normal”
  3. tell her the abuse is not her fault
  4. reinforce that the abuse is her partner's problem and responsibility, but refrain from "bad-mouthing" the partner
  5. take her fears seriously; if you are concerned about her safety, express your concern without judgment by simply saying, “your situation sounds dangerous and I'm concerned about your safety”
  6. be willing to accompany her to the hospital, police station and/or a shelter
  7. if possible, offer her a place to stay temporarily or help her find somewhere to stay
  8. research some local battered women’s shelters and/or affordable therapists and provide her with the information
  9. be sure not to pressure her into doing what you think is best
  10. be supportive, not judgmental
With respect to the abuser, simply blaming her is not the solution to this problem. It’s easy to write the abuser off, to suggest she is “ill” or should remain single for the remainder of her life. That, however, is not the best way to handle the situation. Additionally, you not only want to help the abuser and this particular victim, you want to prevent other women from being abused in the future. Your options?
  1. if the abuser can recognize that she has a problem, help her get counseling
  2. help her to move out of the home temporarily if possible
  3. offer her a place to stay if you are comfortable doing so
  4. if the abuser cannot see her problem, offer your support to the victim and/or be willing to call the police if necessary
With respect to yourself:
  1. don’t become the victim’s or the offender’s sole support system; do the best you can and then take a step back if necessary
  2. if the situation becomes too much for you to deal with, rely on your friends and family for support
  3. get counseling for yourself if necessary
  4. give yourself permission to divorce yourself from the situation if you don’t think you can be supportive

Tell a friend about this page. Return to Lesbian Domestic Violence

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