The social contexts in which lesbian women live, are diverse: for example, there is the family of origin and the chosen family, which is often made up of a close circle of friends; some lesbian women have formerly lived in a heterosexual partnership, some are biological mothers, others are co-mothers. Lesbian couples might share a home, live separately or live in shared housing.
Lesbian women’s experience of violence reflects these social structures so that the perpetrator can be the current partner or a former male or female partner. However, domestic violence is not limited to the partnership but must also include the family of origin: Especially when they are coming-out, many lesbian women experience violent assault from members of their family of origin, i.e. their parents and siblings. Since the members of the chosen family can also be violent, theoretically these must also be included among the group of possible perpetrators in a definition of domestic violence. However, because the distinction between good friends who belong to the chosen family and other good friends is difficult in practice, we include the chosen family under the concept of “close social environment”. Former partners can direct their aggression, not only against the ex-partner but also against this person’s new partner. The various constellations sketched here show the diversity of relationships and clearly illustrates the limitations of a definition of domestic violence that is reduced to violence within partnerships.
Physical, psychological (emotional and verbal) and sexual violence, force and controlling behaviour of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person by her/his present or former female, male or transgender partner or member of family of origin. This definition includes parents, brothers and sisters as well as former husbands from one of the couple as possible perpetrators (Broken Rainbow e.V./Constance Ohms 2006)