Improving Your Service

LGBTIQ people are just as likely as women in the general population to have experienced abuse in one or more of their relationships.

Despite it affecting nearly 1 in 3 of us, LGBTIQ people are less likely to identify the abuse, less likely to find support and less likely to report to police.

Homophobia, heterosexism, transphobia, and societal constructs around gender prevent people from accessing services and impacts on support given to them.

It is important to really listen to your client and their experience. Your client may or may not be comfortable talking about their gender/sexuality, it is important to keep in mind that LGBTIQ people have been systematically and socially silenced with many being used to hiding their identity and relationships.

There are currently no refuges for gay, bisexual and transgender men seeking to escape DV and most existing services are accessible only to women and children.

How you can do a better job

  • Don’t assume someone is or isn’t LGBTIQ because of the way they look or what you see
  • Don’t assume the gender of someone’s partner
  • Treating everyone the same is not necessarily meeting their individual needs So sending a gay man to a men’s behaviour change program not tailored to gay men is not meeting that person’s needs.
  • Create a welcoming, confidential and culturally appropriate environment for LGBTIQ people
  • Use inclusive language, for example change the word ‘spouse’ to ‘partner’, don’t use ‘mr’, ‘miss’, ‘mrs’, ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ at all or until you are sure that it does not offend anyone
  • The LGBTIQ community is actually not a community but a range of communities and cultures and sub-cultures and people’s experiences can differ greatly which mean that we are not one homogenous group. That means not all lesbians are the same, not all gay men are the same, not all trans people have the same experiences

Frequently asked questions

Is it OK to ask a client questions about their gender/sexuality?
Of course you’ll need to get some basic information about your clients, such as their preferred pronoun and the pronoun of their partner if it is relevant to your work with them. What you ultimately want is to create an environment which is comfortable for your client to disclose to you the information which is relevant for you to know.

When LGBTIQ people are identified as such, many workers often focus on their sexual orientation or their trans identity or their intersex status rather than the presenting issue, such as the abuse they experience or perpetrate.

It is OK to ask the questions you need to ask in order to provide the right support. But you don’t want your client to feel that they need to educate you, the professional, first in order to get satisfactory service.

If we have two women presenting at our service who are in a relationship with each other and both claim that they are the victim and the other is the abuser, what can we do to understand the dynamics and essentially figure out who is the abuser and who is the abused?
Work with what is in front of you, putting your assumptions aside and listening and not making any rash decisions. We know that the more’ masculine’ one in the relationship is not necessarily the abuser though it is still common for people to automatically make that assumption. Ideally both parties need to get adequate support which is why being familiar with all referral options is ideal to get help for everyone involved.

What your organisation can do

  • Ensure your staff understand the unique aspects of LGBTIQ relationships and LGBTI DFV
  • Encourage and allow time for all staff to participate in LGBTIQ DFV educational programs
  • Display LGBTI DFV resources and materials in your organisation
  • Nurture active partnerships with LGBTI organisations
  • Add an inclusivity statement on your webpage or Facebook page.
  • Add a sexual identity field and a gender identity field in intake forms.
  • Use inclusive language, not just in person but in all your advertisements, brochures, information sheets etc.

Frequently asked questions

Although we can train and monitor all staff to make sure that they are inclusive and don’t discriminate, how can we make sure that other clients don’t discriminate, threaten and exclude LGBTIQ clients?
Many LGBTIQ people don’t access services because they already anticipate discrimination from other clients. In particular I think perpetrator programs and residential settings.Look at how you prevent your clients from assaulting other clients, stealing or taking illegal drugs while in your service, if you have strict rules and guidelines about these other important issues than you can be proactive about not tolerating discrimination and exclusion.
How can a women’s service be inclusive of trans women?
A trans woman is a woman. She may identify as trans or she may identify simply as a woman. The best thing you can do is treat her as an individual, ask her what she needs to be better supported and then take a zero tolerance approach to discrimination from other staff and clients and focus on her presenting issue and not her gender.

Where to refer to

Please refer to our Getting Help page for more services that can help.


This webinar is a discussion about the added complexities involved when working with LGBTIQ clients who have experienced domestic and family violence. Although abuse within LGBTIQ relationships has similarities to abuse within non LGBTIQ relationships, there are some unique differences and thus some different ways in which workers need to respond to best support their clients.