Same-sex spousal abuse soars in violent SA

Rates of spousal abuse in same sex couples could be higher than in heterosexual relationships‚ but the prevailing stigma of homosexuality and a societal indifference means victims are “invisible”.

A research study on intimate partner violence (IPV) within same-sexed relationships of gay men was presented at the Pan-African Psychology Congress in Durban on Wednesday.

Researcher Lounette Graaff said that the most common depiction of IPV involved a female victim and an abusive male partner.

“It is the most common form of violence experienced by South African women and it is estimated that 30% of reported cases of violence are domestically abusive in nature.”

“With these statistics you can see how society perceives an abusive relationship normally as a man abusing a woman whilst other groups remain invisible to this violent epidemic‚” Graaff said.

She said that her study revealed that while IPV in heterosexual relationships has been researched‚ studies on same sex relationships are relatively scarce.

“It is a general assumption that domestic violence does not exist in the LGBT community. Rates of sexual violence reported by gay men and lesbian women are said to be equal or higher than the rates among heterosexual individuals‚” she said.

Graaff contended that the stigma around homosexuality and the inherent lack of support structures contributed to underreporting of domestic violence in same-sex relationships.

“Because of the stigma that surrounds same-sex relationships‚ victims often do not receive the support and help they need.

“Secondary victimisation contributes to the fact that most victims of intimate partner violence do not report abuse or seek help. Research suggests that police are less likely to offer help to victims of abuse that do not involve male and female partners‚” Graaff added.

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