Study: Bi Women and Gay Men Suffer More Domestic Violence

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Friday October 5, 2012

A new study claims that bisexual women and gay men suffer higher rates of domestic violence, according to the Williams Institute, a gay think tank associated with the University of California, Los Angeles.

Naomi Goldberg and Ilan Meyer, senior public policy scholars, provided the research, which was published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

"As Congress considers reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and we reflect on Domestic Violence Awareness Month," Goldberg wrote in a press release, "our report's findings highlight that these issues also impact the LGBT community."

The study finds that bisexual women are more at risk of "experiencing intimate partner violence compared with heterosexual women, lesbians and women who have sex with women." The report also notes that in 95 percent of the intimate partner violence incidents reported by bisexual women, the "perpetrator was a male intimate partner, indicating that the violence occurred outside a same-sex relationship."

According to the report, gay men also have a high risk of suffering domestic violence with straight men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men but do not identify as gay or bisexual. "Almost all (97 percent) of the annual incidents of intimate partner violence incidents occurring to male victims involved a male intimate partner," according to the report.

The report cites binge drinking and "a history of psychological distress predicted intimate partner violence." But these factors alone don't explain why bisexual and heterosexual women or gay and heterosexual men have such higher rates of violence.

The researchers admit the reasons are unclear. But at least there is now reliable, peer-reviewed data. Other studies have found that domestic violence among gay couples and straight couples were similar, but Meyer and Goldberg claim their study is the most accurate.

In 2011, EDGE reported on a similar study that showed the domestic violence rate among same-sex couples on the rise. The study, done by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, discovered six reported deaths from violence among gay couples in 2010. The year before, there were also six such deaths.

Several regional anti-violence organizations have LGBT-targeted programs to combat domestic violence. The groups urge anyone suffering from such an assault to get help immediately from law enforcement and through their own organizations.