The European data on domestic violence within the context of lesbian partnerships is meagre. In specialist counselling services for domestic violence, lesbians represent a marginal group, i.e. they only very seldom make use of these organisations. At the same time, there are hardly any specialist counselling services that specifically target lesbian women or lesbian, i.e. lesbian/gay/transgender counselling centers.
From the year 2000 to 2006, Broken Rainbow analysed 142 cases of domestic violence and 120 cases of discrimination and hate crimes. In the following, case studies are presented to provide insight into the experience of violence by lesbian women.
|Areas of Incidence||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||Total|
|Violence against lesbians||25||15||10||5||13||68|
|Violence in the partnership||16||11||9||9||20||65|
|Violence by family member or ex-partner||30||16||19||6||6||77|
|Violence in close social environment||25||18||6||9||1||58|
The circle of perpetrators includes not only violent partners but also violent ex-partners, including male ex-partners, and violence can also be exerted by members of the family of origin. Assault by members of the chosen family were included under “violence in the close social environment” (See definition of domestic violence).
The vast majority of cases involve physical abuse together with psychological/verbal violence, stalking or sexualised violence. There is usually a combination of different forms of violence and only in very few cases did psychological/verbal violence (insults, degradation, etc.) occur in the absence of other forms of violence. Sexualised violence also only occurred in one case without other forms of violence.
Almost all assaults took place in the victim’s own or the shared home, only one took place in a public place. Numerous violent confrontations between partners took place both in lesbian-gay venues and at home. Little information was provided about the time that the incidents took place. However, analysis of the little information available shows that the violence was omnipresent since the majority reported that the incidents occurred during the day as well as during the evening and the night. This makes the violence unpredictable for the victim and the danger omnipresent since there is no time when the risk is reduced.
Only very few of the abused lesbian women sought medical care; equally few took civil legal action. If support was sought, this occurred in addition to consultation at lesbian support services above all within the circle of friends (one third): The victims often fled to friends and stayed overnight or hid there. Only very few women visited other counselling services, sought legal advice or entered therapy.
The perpetrators were either the client’s or her current partner’s ex-partner. Analysis of the types of violence exerted shows that the occurrence of stalking activities by ex-partners strongly increases at the time of separation. This is usually associated with a combination of physical and psychological/verbal violence.
Most violence took place during the day or evening in the home of the victim, followed by public places, e.g. on the street. Often there was a combination of events, for example, being followed on the street and telephone terror at home. In comparison to violence by the current partner, which predominantly takes place in the victim’s home, a differentiation of the scene of the violence can be recognised here. However, the extent to which this is significant cannot be established at the current time.
In comparison to other perpetrator groups, domestic violence by male ex-partners displays a specific phenomenon: The great majority of assaults by male ex-partners took place in rural areas, one took place in a medium-sized city and five in a large city. The most common forms of violence exerted were psychological violence, followed by sexualised violence, physical assault and stalking.
|Type of Violence||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||Total|
|Psychological/ verbal violence||47||37||16||31||131|
|Use of weapon||2||0||1||0||3|
This table makes it clear that a weapon is used against lesbian women in only very few cases. The table also shows that, as a rule, no form of violence is used alone but rather that a combination of several forms of violence is used.
|Perpetrator from the scene||4||2||1||6|
|Family of origin||5||5||7||3||3||23|