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Artist: Russell Taylor, Auckland

Intimate Partner Violence

What is Intimate Partner Violence?

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a pattern of actions and behaviours within intimate relationships that cause physical, psychological, emotional or sexual harm. This can include the act or threat of physical assault, intimidation, stalking and harassment, as well as other controlling behaviours.

The term domestic violence is perhaps more commonly used to talk about intimate partner violence, although sometimes people do not identify with this term, as they may not live with or be in a “traditional” (often hetero-normative) relationship with their abuser. Relationships come in various forms but all relationships should be based on respect, equality and care for the other person.  Learn more about the different types of relationships here.

If you are not sure about whether you are in a potentially unhealthy or abusive relationship, this quiz may help you.

Abuse is Not Always Obvious

Abuse is not always obvious. The most obvious forms of abuse can be physical, but abuse can also be emotional, psychological, financial or sexual.

Sometimes it can be hard to identify abuse. Users of violence are often charming, manipulative, apologetic and may not use physical violence. Some abuse can be underhanded or subtle, making it much harder to identify.

All abuse takes a severe toll on self-esteem and overall health and happiness. If you are being abused, you may be feeling helpless and hopeless. You may even be convinced that the abuse is your fault.

It is never your fault!

There is no excuse for abuse. If you are experiencing abuse – physical or non-physical – there is support available.

Who Experiences Intimate Partner Violence?

Anyone can experience intimate partner violence.

There has been limited research that has been conducted in Australia about violence within LGBTQ+ relationships. However, existing research suggests that LGBTQ+ people experience intimate partner violence at the same or higher rates than women in the wider population.

The Australian Research Centre for Health and Sexuality (ARCHS) conducted a national demographic and health and wellbeing survey of 5,476 LGBTIQ people in 2006 and found that around 28% of male-identifying respondents and 41% of female-identifying respondents reported having been in a relationship where a partner was abusive.

Research is even more limited for family and domestic violence against trans and gender diverse Australians. However, it is acknowledged that there are additional complexities and forms of violence experienced by trans and gender diverse people.

For more research on violence in LGBTQ+ relationships go here.

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The Causes of Intimate Partner Violence

Some people who use violence may provide excuses for their violence, such as poor anger management, substance abuse, mental health issues, or traumatic experiences in their past.

There is no excuse for violence. Although these experiences may provide context, it is their choice to use violence and they have a choice to seek support to change their behaviour.

The underlying causes of intimate partner violence are complex and founded in power imbalances across society. Some historical views of gender, sexuality and masculinity are central to the programming of many individuals – these views contribute to disrespectful attitudes and behaviours that lead to using and accepting violence.

Getting Help

Sometimes it can be difficult to get support, particularly as an LGBTQ+ person. You may want to speak to someone who is also LGBTQ+ or someone who understands what it means to be LGBTQ+.

Maybe you don’t want to leave the relationship, but want the violence to stop. The violence will not stop unless your partner wants and acts to change.

More info on getting help here.

Types of Abuse

Abuse can make many forms and can be unique to the relationship.

A relationship which is not based on respect, transparency and comfort, and where the other person is controlling, is not healthy and may be abusive. The abuse experienced is unique to individual relationships, but is always based on power, control and disrespect.

Sometimes having an understanding of the experiences of abuse can help people identify if they may be in an abusive relationship. If you have experienced any kind of abuse, it may be important to talk to someone. For more information about getting help see here.

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  • Physical Abuse

    Acts or threats of physical assault, including punching, kicking, pushing, choking, throwing objects, damaging property, as well as assaulting or neglecting children or pets.

    Examples of statements that reflect physical violence/abuse:

    • Sometimes they throw things at me.
    • Although they sometimes push or hit me, they generally are not violent.
    • They threaten to withhold my access to hormones and medical treatment.
    • I am scared of them when they are angry or intoxicated.
    • Although it was an accident, I am still hiding the reason for my bruises.
    • They once hit me, and sometimes I am scared they will do it again.
    • They pressure me into taking drugs or drinking alcohol.
  • Sexual Abuse

    Unwanted and non-consensual sexual contact, acts or threats of acts, including rape, unwanted touching, non-consensual sharing of intimate images or being pressured into sexual acts in which you are not comfortable.

    Examples of statements that reflect sexual violence/abuse:

    • They forced me to have sex.
    • They are pressuring me to have sex with other people and I do not want to.
    • There are images or videos of me being shared with people without my consent.
    • Sometimes when we are having sex they make me do things I am not comfortable doing.
    • They make me feel shame about the sex I do or don’t want.
    • They refuse to use protection and/or have lied about using protection.
    • They insist on having sex in ways that do not align with my gender identity.
  • Emotional and Psychological Abuse

    Psychological, emotional and verbal abuse includes humiliation, insults, harassment or constant criticism and put downs.

    Examples that indicate emotional and psychological abuse:

    • Nothing I do is good enough.
    • They make fun of my gender or sexuality.
    • They say that I am too gay or not gay enough and try to force me to change.
    • They tell me that I am not a “real” man or woman or that I am not non-binary.
    • They use my race/Aboriginality against me, saying thing like “I am not dark enough to be Aboriginal”.
    • When we talk about their abusive behaviour, they say that my recollection is wrong and I am crazy.
    • I feel like I am “walking on eggshells”.
    • I can’t be by myself. I have to think, feel and behave in a way they want.
    • They threaten to hurt themselves unless I do what they want.
    • My self-esteem has gotten worse as a result of being with them.
    • They shame and humiliate me for my disability.
  • Social Abuse

    Isolation of an individual from friends, family and/or workplaces.

    Examples of statements describing social abuse:

    • They try to control who I  see and/or do not allow me to see my friends or family.
    • They are constantly putting down my friends and make it awkward and uncomfortable when I see them.
    • My partner is unreasonably jealous of my friends, ex-partners or other lovers, and accuses me of cheating or tried to restrict my contact with them.
    • They threaten to disclose something about me to my friends, family and/or workplace that I am not comfortable with them knowing (e.g., disclosing my sexuality or gender history/identity, HIV or STI status).
    • They use my social media, pretending to be me.
    • They have spread rumours about me and have tried to turn people against me.
    • They say my family/friends don’t care about me.
  • Financial Abuse

    Preventing access to finances or undermining a person’s financial position through preventing them from working or making them take on debt.

    Examples of statements describing financial abuse:

    • I am unable to spend my own money.
    • I am not allowed to have my own bank account.
    • My partner is putting me into debt that I cannot afford.
    • They are withholding the money I need for food, medications or other necessities.
    • They are stopping me from working.
  • Harrassment and Stalking

    Harassment is when someone undertakes continued and unwanted actions against another (including threats, demands or spreading information or lies about a person).

    Stalking is when someone follows another person against their will or without their knowledge.

    • They have followed me or regularly show up at my work uninvited.
    • They have put tracking devices/apps on my phone.
    • They pressure my friends into giving them information about me.
    • Sometimes they call and/or text repeatedly.
    • They won’t leave me alone, insisting on coming to appointments and social events.
    • They have set up cameras in my house and/or car.
  • Animal Abuse

    Users of family and intimate partner violence may intentionally harm or threaten to harm animals as a tactic of control and/or emotional and psychological abuse.

    The statements below are examples of animal abuse:

    • My pet is scared or flees when my partner is near.
    • They physically hurt my pet.
    • They say they are looking after my pet but when they do my pet seems hungry, thirsty, overheated or cold, dishevelled.
    • They won’t let me take my sick/injured pet to the vet.
    • They threaten to hurt or kill my pet.
    • Pets have mysteriously died when alone with my partner.
  • Spiritual Abuse

    Spiritual and cultural abuse is denying someone the right to practice their faith or spirituality. It also applies to using spiritual, religious or cultural beliefs and practices to control and dominate a person.

    The statements below are examples of spiritual abuse:

    • They tell me I am stupid for my beliefs.
    • They tell me I can’t be both LGBTQ+ and keep my beliefs.
    • They threaten to tell my spiritual community that I am LGBTQ+.
    • They say that I am going to hell or will be punished by my higher power.
    • They follow me to my place or practice/worship or won’t leave me alone to practice my spirituality.
    • They tell me I cannot display my flag (rainbow, Aboriginal or any other culture) with pride.

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