LGBT People Face Barriers to Assistance for Intimate Partner Violence – Including a Lack of Research

For Immediate Distribution
Nov. 17, 2015

Lauren Jow,, 310-206-0314

LOS ANGELES — Intimate partner violence is more prevalent among certain LGBT populations, but current research is limited, according to a review of existing literature conducted by Taylor N.T. Brown and Jody L. Herman from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. More research on intimate partner violence among LGBT people would allow service providers and policymakers to better address challenges in assisting survivors.

The study, titled “Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Abuse among LGBT People,” reviews research on the prevalence of intimate partner violence and intimate partner sexual abuse among LGBT people, barriers to accessing assistance, and the quality of available help. The authors identified gaps in the research, including limited data from nationally representative samples, particularly for transgender people, and a limited amount of research evaluating programs designed to help LGBT survivors.

Key findings from the report include:

• According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, bisexual women face a higher prevalence of lifetime experiences of intimate partner violence than heterosexual women. Lesbians and bisexual men seem more likely and gay men seem less likely to report ever having experienced IPV than heterosexual women and men, but these differences are not statistically significant.

• In other studies using representative samples, bisexual women experience a higher range of lifetime IPV prevalence than women in the general population. The prevalence of IPV among lesbians, gay men and bisexual men seems as high as among women and men in the general population, respectively.

• In studies using non-representative samples, the prevalence of IPV among lesbians, bisexual women, bisexual men and gay men seems as high as among women and men in the general population, respectively. These studies also find that between 31% and 50% of transgender people experience IPV in their lifetime.

• LGBT people face barriers to seeking help that are unique to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

• LGBT people often rely on informal, personal networks for assistance in cases of intimate partner violence and sexual abuse.

Recommendations for future research include:

• Researchers should study intimate partner violence and intimate partner sexual abuse among transgender people. Few studies have examined both of these issues. Only three studies were found in this review that provided findings of the prevalence of both incidents.

• There is limited research on these issues that uses representative samples. Federal- and state-level surveys should include questions to identify LGBT respondents to generate more generalizable findings.

• Researchers should evaluate the effectiveness of and help design programs that aim to reduce the prevalence of intimate partner violence and sexual abuse among LGBT people and to assist LGBT survivors.

“There are large gaps in the research about LGBT people’s experiences of intimate partner violence and sexual abuse, and transgender people, in particular, are being left out,” said Brown, co-author of the report and policy analyst at the Williams Institute. “Much more can be done to better understand, address and prevent intimate partner violence and sexual abuse within the LGBT population.”

Click here for the full report.