Harrell Center

Same Sex Partner Abuse

Same Sex Partner AbuseScope of the Problem

Recent estimates suggest that the prevalence of same sex partner violence is similar to or even higher than partner abuse among heterosexual relationships.

  • One study found that domestic violence appears to be more frequently reported in same-sex relationships than among married couples.
  • Another study found that among lesbians, 55% reported physical abuse, 14% reported sexual violence and 84% reported emotional abuse. Among gay men, 44% reported physical abuse and 13% reported sexual violence. Overall, lesbians reported higher frequencies of physical abuse, coercion, threats, shaming and using children as tools of control compared to gay men.
  • Adolescent dating violence is similar to rates among heterosexuals as they are among homosexuals and bisexuals.

Partner abuse is equally devastating for victims, whether heterosexual or homosexual.

Same sex partner abuse is important to study. Compared to heterosexual partner abuse, same sex partner abuse is largely ignored by family violence service providers, researchers, and by the gay and lesbian community.


  1. Turell, S. C. (2000). A descriptive analysis of same-sex relationship violence for a diverse sample. Journal of Family Violence, 15, 281-293.
  2. Greenwood, G.L., Relf, M.V., Huang, B., Pollack, L.M., Canchola, J.A. & Catania, J.A. (2002). Battering victimization among a probability-based sample of men who have sex with men. American Journal of Public Health, 92(12), 1964-1969.
  3. Owen, S.S. & Burke T.W. (2004). An exploration of prevalence of domestic violence in same-sex relationships. Psychol Rep, 95(1), 129-132.
  4. Cameron, P. (2003). Domestic violence among homosexual partners. Psychol Rep, 93(2), 410-416.
  5. Freedner, N.; Freed, L., Yang, W. & Austin, S.B. (2002). Dating violence among gay, lesbian and bisexual adolescents: Results from a community survey. Journal of Adolescent Health, 31, 469-474.