1. The hidden secret: dealing with DV in the lesbian community

Lesbian partnerships are embedded in society in general as well as in a sub-cultural context providing sub-cultural norms and values. In addition to specific perpetrator programmes for (lesbian) women and developing an intervention system that also considers lesbian lifestyles, it is necessary to have a close look at the LGBT community as well. Domestic violence is not a problem that the LGBT community is tackling openly and offensively. The majority of lesbian victims and  lesbian perpetrators are looking for support in their circles of friends – where the incidence is usually kept as secret. The silence of the LGBT community adds weight to the idea that violence-free partnerships are not a shared community value. Instead, violent incidences in lesbian spaces are met with e.g. barring the participants, keeping their “private matters” out of the community. In the community’s self conception, the fear that making domestic violence public may support and strengthen prejudice against homosexuals (see chapter 9.1.1) is deeply embedded.
Another cause of not speaking out about violent partnerships may be found in the definition of domestic violence itself: According to Hageman-White (2006:8) in most European countries, domestic violence is defined as “the physical, psychological and sexual violence to women by men”. Since this definition excludes violence in same-sex partnerships, it contributes to an invisibility of the problem within LGBT communities. Furthermore, this definition supports a sub-cultural collective exclusion of the LGBT community which then again reinforces lesbian/female perpetrators perception of acting righteously.

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

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