Domestic violence is a major problem among male same-sex couples, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Michigan found that 46 percent of 320 men (160 couples) reported some form of intimate partner violence — including physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse and controlling behavior — in the last year.
“If you just looked at physical and sexual violence in male couples, it’s about 25 to 30 percent, roughly the same as women,” Rob Stephenson, professor of nursing and director of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities, told Science Daily. “We’re stuck in this mental representation of domestic violence as a female victim and a male perpetrator, and while that is very important, there are other forms of domestic violence in all types of relationships.”
Researchers stressed that violence in same-sex couples could also hinder HIV prevention efforts. Men in abusive relationships often find it harder to negotiate condom use when they have sex. Also, the study showed that violence is often linked to internalized homophobia. The study says that a man struggling with his identity may lash out at his partner physically and emotionally. Stephenson compared it to heterosexual men who lash out at their female partners after feeling inadequate in some way.
Most studies examining domestic violence focus only on women who experience it, or only those men who are abused in gay or bisexual relationships. The research is important, Stephenson stressed, because it debunks stereotypes about domestic violence among queer men.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, intimate partner violence among LGBTQ people is often not part of the mainstream narrative. In a 2014 survey NCAVP did of 648 domestic violence agencies, 94 percent said they were not serving LGBTQ domestic violence survivors.
“The domestic violence system is predicated on the idea of battered women, violence against women and men as abusers,” Lisa O’Connor, deputy program officer at domestic violence advocacy organization Safe Horizon, told Mic in a 2016 article on the subject. “I don’t think it’s a blatant stigma against men. It’s part of a history of seeing domestic violence in a heteronormative way.”
The study appears in the July issue of American Journal of Men’s Health.
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