New report shines light on domestic violence rates in LGBTQ communities

Charity Hope Former Deputy Center Director
Oct 30, 2014

This month, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released its latest report, Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ), and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2013. The report provides detailed data on LGBTQ and HIV-affected, as well as data on police, medical, and other responses to them. This report builds on a growing but limited body of research on domestic and sexual violence in LGBTQ communities, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)

As recent high-profile incidents involving NFL players illustrate, intimate partner violence is a major problem in the United States. According to the CDC, one in four women has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Members of the LGBTQ communities are not immune to this violence. Some members of LGBTQ communities report levels of intimate partner violence at rates equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals. According to the NISVS, 46 percent of lesbian women and 61 percent of bisexual women—compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women—have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Equally alarming, as the overall rate of homicide has declined nationwide, the NCAVP report  documents the highest level of homicide at the hands of an intimate partner in LGBTQ communities for the second year in a row. Among all murder victims, women are six times more likely than men to be killed by a current or former intimate partner. However, according to the NCAVP report, the majority of homicide victims among LGBTQ communities are gay men.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. As Kim Gandy, president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said in Vera’s Justice in Focus: Crime Bill @ 20 initiative: “Right now, we still have one in four women who will, during their lifetimes, experience domestic violence. I want that number to go to zero.”

Hopefully with increased awareness of domestic and sexual violence, coupled with a growing recognition of all the communities impacted by violence at the hands of intimate partners, we can begin to turn awareness into action, and take steps to save lives.