The Occurrence of Domestic Violence in the Gay and Lesbian Communities

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Domestic violence, also referred to as intimate partner violence, intimate partner abuse or domestic abuse, affects over one million people in the United States alone. It can be carried out in any number of ways including physically, emotionally, sexually, psychologically and/or financially. Its legal definition considers it to be “any assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, or any criminal offense resulting in physically injury or death of one family member or household member by another who is residing in the same single dwelling unit” (Brown, 2008). In the United States it is considered a major health problem so much so that it was declared the number one health concern by the U.S. Surgeon General in 1992 (Peterman & Dixon, 2003). Not only is it a rapidly growing health problem but it is a growing societal concern as well. Extending beyond the effect felt by the victims and their families, it impacts our communities, government, law enforcement and public service agencies.

However, domestic violence is not a new issue within our society. For centuries, women have been regarded as the property of men, offering them leeway in the enforcement of domestic abuse laws. Public opinion held that as heads of households, they had the right to discipline their wife and children as they saw fit. Eventually, women came to view this prevailing belief as truth. An inevitable outcome was their denial as victims at all. They simply saw it as the way it was and accepted it as such. Non-intervention has typically been the preferred method in regard to family matters. The long standing belief held that ‘what happened behind closed doors was no one’s business other than that family’s’ ruled the attitudes of society, the lega...

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