Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) can occur in all relationships, regardless of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2007, through a generous contribution from the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation’s Growing Together Fund, the Women’s Shelter Program created a brochure (insert hyperlink) to further address the unique needs of LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex) victims.

“Studies indicate that domestic violence occurs in LGBTQ communities with the same amount of frequency and severity as in the heterosexual community and affects as many as one-in-three relationships. Men as well as women are battered or abuse their partners.” (L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s STOP Partner Abuse/Domestic Violence Program report, 2002)

“Same-sex batterers use forms of abuse similar to those of heterosexual batterers. They have an additional weapon in the threat of “outing” their partner to family, friends, employers or community.” (Lundy, Abuse That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Assisting Victims of Lesbian and Gay Domestic Violence in Massachusetts, 28 New Eng. L. Rev. 273, Winter 1993)

“While same-sex battering mirrors heterosexual battering both in type and prevalence, its victims receive fewer protections.” (Barnes, It’s Just a Quarrel, American Bar Association Journal, February 1998, p. 24)

Warning Signs of Abuse in LGBTQ Relationships
Has Your Partner Ever:
Hurt or threatened to hurt you, your children or pets?
Thrown things at you or broken objects during an argument?
Tried to keep you from getting medical help?
Threatened to “out” your sexual orientation in order to embarrass or discredit you?
Threatened that you’ll lose your children/child custody if your sexual orientation is publicly known?
Reinforced fears that no one will help you because the community is intolerant of your sexual orientation or gender identity?
Become extremely jealous and controlling of who you associate with?
Blamed you for “causing” him/her to lose control?
Forced you to have sex or made you do things during sex that made you feel uncomfortable?
Deliberately destroyed or damaged something you value?

Q & A

Q:I heard that the Women’s Shelter Program (WSP) only helps women. I’m a gay male who is looking for services. Can you help me too?
A: Absolutely. Contrary to what some people think, the WSP does serve men. However, we do not house men at the emergency shelter. We can provide limited hotel stays, counseling, case management, legal services and other support services to male victims.

Q: I identify as a transgender woman, but I’m pre-op. Can I receive services?
A: Yes. As noted previously, all individuals are eligible for support. If you identify your gender as “female”, you are also eligible to receive state funded services at the emergency shelter.

Q: I’m afraid to report the abuse for fear that I’m going to be “outed” to my friends and family who don’t yet know I’m gay. What should I do?”
A: This is a very real concern for many LGBTQ IPV survivors. However, WSP staff are sensitive to this issue and will provide confidential counseling and support services to assist your particular needs.

Q: Can I receive services even if I don’t want to come to your emergency shelter?
A: Yes. Although the agency’s name includes the word “shelter,” the WSP provides a wide range of support services. Individuals do not need to stay at our emergency shelter to receive counseling, legal assistance, case management or other related services.

Q: Will your staff understand or be able to empathize with what I’m going through?
A: The WSP prides itself on training all staff on best practices in assisting LGBTQ survivors. Many counselors have had significant experience in assisting LGBTQ clients. Please feel free to express this concern when you contact the agency and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you may have.

Q: I just need to talk to someone. But I don’t want to be pressured to leave my relationship. Can I still receive services?
A: Yes. It is common for individuals to want to “assess their options” when there have been instances of abuse in a relationship. Our counselors and staff understand this dynamic and will never pressure or force you to leave the relationship. We will, however, give you information and resources if you decide to do so.

Q: My partner and I want to receive couples counseling to “work things out.” Do you offer this service?
A: No. Due to safety standards in the domestic violence field, we do not offer conjoint or couples counseling when there have been instances of abuse or violence. Individual counseling is available to assist both individuals separately (so long as the abuser is not court mandated to seek treatment).

Q: I fear that I might be at risk for perpetrating violence or abuse. Where can I get help?
A: The WSP does provide services to “self-referred” (non-court mandated) individuals who are concerned that their behavior might be abusive or potentially abusive. Counseling services for self-referred individuals at risk of perpetrating violence are offered on a sliding-scale basis. Please call 805-473-6507.

Local LGBTQI Organizations:

Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast (GALA)
Business Office: 805-541-4252

Tranz Central Coast
Phone Number (through GALA): 805-541-4252

Cal Poly Gays, Lebians, Bisexuals United (GLBU)
Phone Number: 805-7560-PRIDE (7799)

Parents & Friends of Lebians and Gays (PFLAG)
Phone Number: 805-549-8989