Bisexual Women, Gay Men, Report Increased Intimate Partner Violence

For Immediate Release
October 3, 2012

Contact: Laura Rodriguez, lrodriguez@rabengroup.com, (310) 956-2425

LOS ANGELES—Bisexual women and gay men face elevated risks of intimate partner violence according to a new report by Naomi G. Goldberg, MPP and Ilan H. Meyer, PhD, Senior Scholar for Public Policy at the Williams Institute 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, our report’s findings highlight that these issues also impact the LGBT community,” said Naomi G. Goldberg.

The authors report on analysis of data from a representative sample of California adults.  Key findings include:

-  Bisexual women had elevated risks of experiencing intimate partner violence compared with heterosexual women, lesbians and women who have sex with women over the course of the lives and in the past year.  But, significantly, in 95% of intimate partner violence annual incidents reported by bisexual women, the perpetrator was a male intimate partner, indicating that the violence occurred outside a same-sex relationship.

- Gay men had elevated risk of experiencing intimate partner violence compared with heterosexual and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men but do not identify as gay or bisexual.  Almost all (97%) of the annual incidents of intimate partner violence incidents occurring to male victims involved a male intimate partner.

- Binge drinking and a history of psychological distress predicted intimate partner violence, but these factors did not explain disparities between bisexual and heterosexual women or between gay and heterosexual men.

The researchers’ findings are based on a 2007-2008 sample of the California Health Interview Survey. The authors compared patterns of intimate partner violence among four groups:  heterosexual men and women, bisexual men and women, gay men and lesbians, and men and women who have had sex with members of the same gender but are not identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.  Intimate partner violence refers to physical and verbal abuse, or threats of physical abuse, by a current or former wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend or someone else an individual has lived with or dated.

Some previous studies have shown that intimate partner violence rates are similar for same-sex and different-sex relationships, but analysis in this study used a probability sampling technique that can provide a more accurate representation of the population.   Unlike previous studies, this study categorized individuals by sexual identity as well as sexual behavior and was able to identify the sex of the perpetrator.

The study, entitled Sexual Orientation Disparities in History of Intimate Partner Violence: Results From the California Health Interview Survey, was published online ahead of print (September 24, 2012) in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Click here for the full report.