5. VIOLENCE IN LESBIAN PARTNERSHIPS

Introduction

The estimated proportion of homosexuals in the general population varies between 5% and 10%. While conservative ratings are based on the “Kinsey Report” from the end of 1950s, the figure of 10% is based on estimations that consider the far-reaching cultural and social changes in Western societies since middle of last century. Homosexuals are more visible, particularly in urban regions, since more gays and lesbians actually live their psychosocial identity openly. Present research indicates that the prevalence of domestic violence in same-sex partnerships is as high as in opposite-sex partnerships. Approximately one in four to one in five same-sex partnerships experience abuse/violence. However, studies focussing on same-sex partnerships vary in methodology, especially in terms of their definition of violence/abuse and sampling, and are thus not comparable. Despite the absence of reliable data on the prevalence of same-sex domestic violence, there is no doubt that the problem is extensive. Nevertheless, violence in lesbian and gay couples is not a subject often discussed in mainstream domestic violence discourse.

Most research focuses on the aetiology and prevalence of domestic violence in lesbian partnerships, especially the personality of perpetrators, the influence of societal factors and that violence occurs in a similar proportion of lesbian and heterosexual couples. The basis of our work, in contrast, is the analysis of the dynamics of violent relationships. We perceive violence and abuse as expressions of interaction that is determined by the behaviour of both partners. Therefore, the personality of the perpetrator does not stand at the forefront of our work. Rather, the focus of our considerations is on interactional structures, such as the interwovenness that exists between the partners. (See theoretical underpinning).  We distinguish between mono-directional and und bi-directional violent dynamics, which in turn can be divided into two categories. Mono-directional patterns of violence include both abusive relationships and acts carried out in the heat of the moment. In bi-directional patterns of violence we find, first of all, an interwovenness between the partners, which is primarily characterised by the existence of a needy and a giving partner, whereby both women are self-actualised in their positions in the relationship. The relationship also includes dynamics of violence that can be traced back to trauma that is played out again in the relationship (See theoretical underpinning).

Which of the dynamics of violence becomes established in the relationship depends largely on the interaction between the partners. An important characteristic when describing a victim is her fear. For those involved in bi-directional violence, fear only arises sometimes and is limited to specific situations. However it does not characterise or carry the relationship. In addition, they maintain the violent relationship structure out of self interest. Consequently, these women are not described as victims, but rather as participants in violence.  

page 1 of 1
to top

Funded by:and
European Commission and the German Federal Ministry of Family, Seniors, Women and Youth.

Imprint | Sitemap