LGBTQ+ Intimate Partner Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We queer the conversation and center lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer+ survivor experiences by using the term Intimate Partner Violence. This term is inclusive of the myriad of experiences of IPV that occur outside of the home, and to uplift the unique ways IPV affects LGBTQ+ people. It also works to dispel the heteronormative, binary perception of survivors.
This page contains information about intimate partner violence, its impact in the LGBTQ+ community and resources and support for survivors of intimate partner violence. 

What is Intimate Partner Violence?

Intimate Partner Violence is the use of power and coercion to control a partner. It is also referred to as domestic violence in some circles, or partner or relationship violence. 

IPV can exist in relationships where those involved live together, or live apart and whether they are married or unmarried or in a monogamous or polyamorous relationship. 

Intimate Partner Violence can take one or more forms in a relationship:

  • physical
  • emotional
  • sexual
  • and/or financial

Often, more than one type of IPV can be present at the same time.

Intimate Partner Violence can also look like:

  • stalking
  • body shaming
  • forced/non-consensual sexual activity
  • blocking community support 
  • isolation from friends/family

LGBTQ+ IPV by the numbers

Approximately 7 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have experienced intimate partner violence.

56.3% of lesbian women experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

69.3% of bisexual women experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

69.3% of bisexual women experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

46.1% of bisexual men experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

4.5 million lesbian and bisexual women reported experiences of intimate partner violence in the 2016/2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

2.5 million gay and bisexual men reported experiences of intimate partner violence in the 2016/2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

54% of transgender people reported some form of intimate partner violence in 2015.

24% percent of transgender people reported severe physical violence from an intimate partner.

Data sources:

National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey Report Victimization by Sexual Identity 

2015 National Transgender Survey 


How IPV affects LGBTQ+ communities

Many LGBTQ+ populations are at an elevated risk for intimate partner violence. Bisexual women, transgender people, LGBTQ+ people of color, disabled LGBTQ+ folks and undocumented LGBTQ+ folks may be at higher risk for intimate partner violence.

LGBTQ+ intimate partner violence is vastly underreported, unacknowledged and often misreported as something other than IPV. And, often times LGBTQ+ survivors face additional stigma, harm or violence when attempting to seek services for survivors of IPV.

IPV can affect anyone regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Cis men, cis women, Trans people, nonbinary people all can be survivors or harm doers. Barriers and stigma often prevent LGBTQ+ people from seeking the help that they need, and many support structures such as domestic violence programs and shelter systems limit or prohibit some sections of our community.

IPV can affect LGBTQ+ differently based on a variety of factors

Different types of LGBTQ+ people may experience IPV differently based on their unique experiences. Learn below how IPV can affect folks in our community. And folks who hold multiple marginalized identities such as transgender women of color, or nonbinary disabled folks, may experience compounded forms of oppression and violence.

LGBTQ+ survivors with disabilities

LGBTQ+ survivors with disabilities are at least two times more likely to be isolated by their abusive partner, three times more likely to be stalked and four times more likely to experience financial violence.

LGBTQ+ sex workers

LGBTQ+ sex workers experience increased risk due to the criminalization of their work, making them more likely to experience sexual or physical violence from a partner, clients, employees or coworkers, but face barriers to reporting and getting support.

LGBTQ+ immigrants

LGBTQ+ immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented, may also experience intimate partner violence in unique ways. This can look like threats to report a partner’s immigration status to ICE or other officials, or the withholding/controlling access to identity or travel documentation.

Survivors of IPV living with HIV

For folks living with or affected by HIV, intimate partner violence can look like threats of exposure or outing of a partner’s HIV status, preventing them from receiving care or medication, or using anti-HIV stigma to harm them.

TGNC identity and IPV

For transgender, gender non-conforming and nonbinary survivors of intimate partner violence, experiences may include a partner refusing to use a TGNC survivor’s pronouns or chosen name, denying access to hormones, medical care, gender-affirming clothing or supplies, or targeting or harrassing a TGNC survivor about their body, gender identity or gender expression.

Fact Check: Intimate Partner Violence in LGBTQ+ Communities

True or False: LGBTQ people don't experience IPV as much as straight/cisgender people.

False. IPV is more likely to affect LGBTQ+ relationships, especially those of us who are transgender, people of color, disabled, or bisexual. Anyone can experience IPV no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, or the sexual orientation or gender identity of their partner.

True or False: It's always obvious who causes harm through IPV

False. LGBTQ+ relationships can look different, and have different power, gender and sexuality dynamics than other relationships. Anyone can be a perpetrator of intimate partner violence, even if they don’t look like traditional images of someone who does harm.

True or False: Intimate Partner Violence is always physical

False. Intimate Partner Violence can be physical, financial, emotional, or sexual. Sometimes IPV within a relationship includes many tactics of power and control.

Sexual violence is non-consensual sexual activity of any kind, forced by a partner.

Emotional violence is using verbal or psychological abuse to control, demean or coerce a partner.

Financial violence is the non-consensual use of or control over financial resources like bank accounts, taking out debt in a partner’s name, or forcing/coercing a partner to engage in financial transactions without their consent.

True or False: Gay and bisexual men are at risk for IPV

True. Men can be survivors of intimate partner violence of any kind. Often, stigma makes it harder for male-identified folks to seek support or assistance when they experience intimate partner violence. Data shows that Gay, Bisexual and Queer men may be at a heightened risk for IPV than non GBQ men, and are more at risk for fatal instances of IPV.

True or False: LGBTQ+ survivors may be less likely to seek support from police or other services

True. Historical treatment of LGBTQ+ survivors as well as the potential threats of revictimization (experiencing more harm while trying to get help) can cause LGBTQ+ survivors to be less likely to report their experiences to police or seek support from mainstream services or shelters.

AVP can help survivors safety plan should they need to contact or connect with law enforcement or other programs for survivors.

At AVP, we are dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ Survivors

At AVP, we support and uplift the unique needs of LGBTQ+ survivors with programs and services designed by and for our communities. We can support you on your journey to healing.

Counseling Services


Crisis Counseling and Support

AVP offers 24/7 support by phone or text at 212-714-1141. You can also fill out our report violence form and a trained counselor will contact you within 48 hours.


Survivor Advocacy

Our Advocacy Unit (AU) team will work with survivors to get necessary benefits and access to important programs and resources.


Support Groups

AVP offers support year-round support groups for survivors of violence, including groups designed for TGNC survivors, for survivors of IPV and for those navigating relationship issues. Contact our hotline for updated information on support groups.


Family Law

Our legal team provides free consultation and representation or direct referral to LGBTQ+ survivors of violence seeking orders of protection, custody and visitation, divorce and dissolution and/or child and spousal support. 


Name Change & Identity Documents 

Our legal team can support LGBTQ+ survivors of violence with legal name change documentation and correction of identity documents such as NYS ID/DL, Social Security cards, Passport, Birth Certificate, etc.


Housing Law

Our legal team provides support for LGBTQ+ survivors facing eviction or experiencing harassment from a neighbor or landlord. 

Survivors deserve healing and joy. If you have experienced IPV, you are not alone.
AVP can help you with safety planning, crisis counseling and more. Call our hotline at 212-714-1141 or fill out our Report Violence form to get help today.