I am LGBTQ. Is my Relationship Healthy?
Healthy relationships all look different. What they have in common is being based on equality and respect. What they don't have in common is how they're structured or who's in them. In fact, healthy, LGBTQ relationships are often characterized by how resilient, creative and unique they are. It can be hostile out there - why shouldn't your relationship be a safe space where you're free to be yourself? Some signs of a healthy relationship include:
Obstacles for LGBTQ Youth to Get Help
Many LGBTQ teens and 20-somethings believe that no one will help them because they are transgender or in a same-sex relationship. If you're LGBTQ, you may face additional obstacles when asking for help.
Shame or embarrassment
You may be struggling with your own internalized homophobia or shame about your sexual orientation or gender-identity. Your abusive partner may attempt to use this shame to exert power and control over you. They may try to make you feel guilty about yourself by calling you names that play on sexuality or gender insecurities (like saying you're 'not man enough') or pressuring you into sexual acts that you're not comfortable with by saying that's what is 'normal' in your kind of relationship.
Fear of not being believed or taken seriously
You may worry that if you report abuse, you will encounter common stereotypes, like violence between LGBTQ partners is always mutual, abuse doesn't occur in lesbian relationships, only the physically bigger partner can be abusive or LGBTQ relationships are inherently unhealthy. Your partner may exploit this fear, trying to convince you that no one will take an LGBTQ victim seriously. This can happen, but not always.
Fear of retaliation, harassment, rejection or bullying
If you are not yet out to everyone, your abusive partner may threaten to tell your secret to people who will make your life more difficult once they know. You may also fear that seeking help will make you a target of public ridicule, retaliation, harassment or bullying. Your abusive partner may exploit these fears to isolate you and keep you in the relationship.
As part of the LGBTQ community, you may fear that disclosing the abuse will make everyone look bad. Your partner may even use this against you, making you feel guilty for getting help. For example, if your partner's not out, they may tell you that you can't report the abuse without breaking the trust of everyone in your group.
Loss of community
If you're part of a religious community or traditional family, you may worry that disclosing your relationship - let alone the abuse you're experiencing - may make the situation worse. Also, in your small LGBTQ community, it may feel like there's nowhere to turn.
Sometimes an agency may not be informed on how to respectfully treat people who identify as LGBTQ.
Many services are only available for women, or people may presume services are limited by gender based on an agency's name or how services are marketed/advertised
Information is adapted from LoveRespect.org
1. The Human Rights Campaign
2. Pandora's Project
3. Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs