Intimate Violence in Lesbian Relationships:
Discussion of Survey Findings and Practice Implications

Reviewed by
Suzana Rose, Ph.D.

from an article of the same title by:
Gwat-Yong Lie & Sabrina-Gentlewarrier

Journal of Social Service Research, 1991,
15(1/2), 41-59

To examine the incidence of domestic violence and help-seeking in lesbian relationships.

Lesbians attending the Michigan Women's Music Festival in 1985 were asked to complete a survey at a workshop entitled "Lesbian Violence" and elsewhere at the festival. Of the 1099 lesbian participants, most were white (87%) and between 20 and 45 years of age.

Participants completed a checklist of the types of abuse they had ever experienced or perpetrated on a female lover/partner.

About 45% indicated no partner abuse ever, and 55% had been in at least one abusive relationship (25% had been survivors only; 26% had been both survivors and perpetrators, and 4 % had been perpetrators only). Types of abuse experienced included: physical abuse or combined physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse (32%); and verbal or emotional abuse only (18%). Types of abuse perpetrated included: physical or a combination of physical, sexual, and/or psychological (16%) and verbal or emotional abuse only (15%). About half of the lesbians in both the survivor only and survivor-perpetrator groups had sought help from the following sources listed from most frequently to least frequently used: Counselling; support groups; self-help groups; battered women's shelters.

Abuse was as prevalent among lesbian relationships studied here (55%) as it was in heterosexual relationships (37 to 55%). Questions concerning perpetrating abuse need to distinguish between actions taken in self-defense and actions initiated by the aggressor. This point was not assessed here. Findings are limited by the selective recruiting of participants. Those solicited at a workshop on lesbian battering may have been more likely than a more general sample of lesbians to have been in abusive relationship.

Reviewed by Suzanna Rose, Ph.D.

Feedback Join Us Site Map VAWPrevention Home
  National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center © Copyright 2000
(843) 792-2945/telephone       (843)  792-3388/fax