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Domestic abuse in same sex relationships Professor Marianne Hester ( with Catherine Donovan & Jonathan Holmes – Sunderland, Melanie McCarry & Eldin Fahmy – Bristol) Economic & Social Research Council, Award No. RES-000-23-0650 The study most detailed UK research on same sex domestic abuse to date first study in the UK comparing domestic abuse in same sex and heterosexual relationships Fieldwork carried out between January 2005 and March 2006 frameworks Can Gender and Power model explain same sex domestic violence? What about: Power and control Heterosexual male paradigm – physical violence Lack of ‘gender’ in same sex relationships Questions about victims/survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence: • Domestic violence: uni-directional or bi- directional? • ‘Patriarchal/ intimate terrorism’ or ‘situational/ common couple violence’ (Johnson 1995, 2006) The research 1. A UK-wide survey of domestic abuse in same sex relationships (800 responses, 746 usable questionnaires). 2. Five focus groups with lesbians, gay men and heterosexual women and men of different ages and ethnicities (21 individuals). 3. Semi-structured interviews with 67 individuals (41 lesbian/gay/queer, 3 bisexual, and 23 heterosexual) The questionnaire British Crime Survey – heteronormative (until now) US same sex surveys – beyond heteronormativity Experiences of emotional, physical and sexual abuse; impact/context; violence to partner The questionnaire sample Nearly two thirds women (451) and a third men (280). Women were most likely to identify as ‘lesbian’ . Men mainly identified as ‘gay man’. Bisexuals and queers mostly women, and younger. The questionnaire sample - age ranged from under 16 to late 60s - most in their 20s & 30s 20.0% 15.0% Percent 10.0% 5.0% 0.0% under 16-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 16 Graph 2: Age of respondents The questionnaire sample Ethnicity as UK population More than 1 in 10 had a disability Income slightly higher than UK population – and large gender inequality 1 in 5 women parented children, and 1 in 15 men Current relationship Two-thirds were in a relationship Men had shorter relationships, but also 2-5 years and more than 20 years. Women had longer relationships The Interviews Total of 67 individuals of which (44 lgbq, 23 heterosexual): 19 lesbians 19 gay men 3 bisexuals 3 queer 14 heterosexual women 9 heterosexual men Similar demographics to survey Experiences of domestic abuse When is it abuse? Difficulty naming experiences as abuse Easier to call physical violence domestic abuse ….I do think it was quite a controlling relationship, yeah. And, I did think, ‘well actually, is this really going to count’… because it’s probably not on the greatest scale of long term, abusive, violent behaviour…. Uhm but it does fall into it, I think. (Kay) Some answered ‘no’ in questionnaire, and ‘yes’ in later interview Experiences of domestic abuse WARNING: NOT RANDOM SAMPLE therefore NOT PREVALENCE In the survey 40.1% women & 35.2% men said they had experienced same sex domestic abuse Even more had experienced at least one form of abusive behaviour CONCLUSION – domestic an issue for considerable number of people in LGBT community. British Crime Survey data In last 12 months (one or more incidents): heterosexual men 4%, heterosexual women 6%, gay/ bisexual men 9%, lesbian/ bisexual women17% Experiences of domestic abuse of those respondents experiencing a range of abuse most (86%) are in uni-directional and not bi-directional abusive relationships. of those respondents experiencing one form of abuse most (64%) are again in uni-directional and not in bi-directional abusive relationships For those identifying as experiencing domestic abuse, most are experiencing uni-directional abuse Emotional abuse – ‘top ten’ (survey) Isolated from friends (under 35) regularly insulted/put down (low income) frightened by things your partner says/does (low education, low income) told what to do/who to see (low education) isolated from relatives (low education) made to do most housework your spending controlled (gay men, under 35, low education) your age used against you (under 35) malicious/pestering phone calls (low education) your education used against you Physical abuse – ‘top ten’ (survey) slapped/pushed/shoved (under 35, low education) physically threatened (gay men, low education) kicked/punched (gay men, under 35, low education) restrained/held down/tied up stalked/followed by partner (under 35, low education, low income) beaten up choked/strangled/suffocated (under 35) locked out of house/room by partner (low education) hit with an object/weapon (under 35) Bitten (under 35, low income) Sexual abuse – ‘top seven’ (survey) had sex for sake of peace touched in way that caused fear/alarm/distress (low income) forced into sexual activity (gay men) hurt during sex (gay men, under 35, low income) 'safe' words/boundaries disrespected (gay men, under 35, low income) sexually assaulted/abused (under 35, low income) refused your request for safer sex (gay men) Impact of abuse Similar for women & men… except: Emotional abuse impact for women: abuse made them work harder so as ‘to make their partner happy’ or in order ‘to stop making mistakes’, and/ or had impact on their children or their relationship with their children For men: made them ‘feel loved/wanted’ Physical abuse impact Women: as with emotional abuse But yeah I did love her. … I don’t know. I think part of me wanted to help her, um, and I thought loving her would fix everything. (Sarah) Sexual abuse impact Women: some feared for their lives Similarities between women and men First same sex relationships risk for domestic abuse Sexuality as tool of control: denigrating the scene; abusive partner not wanting to be out Post separation abuse Abusive partner controlling activities/relationships of victim/survivors Abusive partner undermining victim/survivor sense of self Also… Use of other aspects: victim may be taller, larger, more educated, higher social class e.g. of ‘inverse oppression’ Because, actually, if two strangers saw me and Marnie together, not knowing either of us or anything about either of us, I think they would probably assume that I was the one with the power in the relationship. Because I am physically bigger than her. I probably come across verbally more confident than her, probably come across more educated than her. (pause) … But I think anybody who spent a weekend with us would quickly realise where the power lay in that relationship (Ella) Differences? Men reported experiencing more physical abuse and especially more sexual abuse; Women reported more emotional abuse and emotionally more coercive sexual abuse lesbians more likely to live with abusive partner and more likely to experience longer abusive relationship Men less likely to live with abusive partner and more likely to experience shorter abusive relationship Abusive men: typically aggressively possessive Abusive women: typically desperately needy Norms of femininity linked to experiences of abusive female same sex relationships Femininity linked with expectations/experiences of: emotional articulateness emotional manipulation commitment expressed through living together (lesbian joke what do lesbians do on the second date? Move in) commitment expressed through wanting to make things better, help partner, stay through ‘bad times’ Norms of masculinity linked to experiences of males in abusive same sex relationships Masculinity linked with expectations/experiences of: Lack of commitment expressed through not living together Lack of commitment expressed through willingness to leave earlier when things go wrong Physical aggression Physical sexual agression Help-seeking Help-seeking one in five did not seek help from anyone (22.2%). most used ‘informal’ or ‘private’ means rather than voluntary of statutory sector services More than half contacted friends – especially women about a third used counsellors or therapists GPs or colleagues also used – especially by men About one in ten contacted the police – more men. Help-seeking Help sought from Self- Self-defined defined domestic abuse domestic by gender abuse – Women Men % all % % Your friends 57.9 60.4 52.2 Counsellor/therapist 32.6 33.7 30.4 Your relatives 25.2 24.3 27.2 GP 13.8 11.8 17.4 Lesbian or gay 13.5 11.8 16.3 helpline/ organisation Someone at work 11.9 11.2 13.0 Police 9.0 7.1 10.9 summary Summary of Findings Domestic abuse is a sizeable problem in same sex relationship Domestic abuse is experienced in very similar ways in lesbian and gay relationships. Men were more likely to experience sexual abuse Differences in experiences reflected gender norms As with surveys of heterosexual communities, those aged 25 years and under at greater risk of abuse (… first relationships) Low income and low educational attainment also risk factors conclusion Gender and Power? Power and control – operates in both lesbian and gay relationships, with some gendered norms. Also use of other ‘inversely oppressive’ aspects. Heterosexual male paradigm (physical violence) - men report experiencing more physical violence than lesbians Lack of ‘gender’ in same sex relationships – but evidence of gendered norms.
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