Assessment: Identifying and Intervening in Domestic Violence in Lesbian
Suzana Rose, Ph.D.
from an article of the same title by:
Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 1996,
To describe difficulties associated with the clash of three perspectives
related to domestic violence among lesbians, including the feminist analysis
of domestic violence, lesbian and gay affirmative therapy, and family
Feminist analyses guiding the development of shelters often have resulted
in social services that neglect lesbians; in addition, treatment of heterosexual
women victims is based on the idea that the victim must be separated and
protected from her male partner. Lesbian and gay affirmative therapy assumes
that homosexual relations are normal and healthy; treatment focuses on
life issues that lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients are facing. Family
systems theory indicates that victims should be treated within the context
of their family and community.
Difficulties Related to the Clash of Perspectives
Outside large urban areas, effective nonhomophobic interventions are not
available for lesbians in social service agencies. Lesbian affirmative
therapists have a dual role; they must intervene with both the lesbian
couple and the unresponsive or hostile social service system. Couples
counseling is advocated within family systems theory and opposed by feminist
approaches; however, it may be the only way lesbian couples will receive
Several case examples are presented to show the benefit of couples' counseling
in some cases of lesbian battering, particularly to determine perpetrator,
victim, and mutual aggressor roles.
Reviewed by Suzanna Rose, Ph.D.