12132_tnInternational: Domestic violence occurs as much or even more with same-sex couples as among opposite-sex couples, according to new research.

“There are vulnerabilities that come with being in a homosexual relationship,” Richard Carroll told Reuters Health. “It can be as basic as someone not ready or willing to be open to their family or community that they’re in a homosexual relationship. The theory is that additional stressors can add to increased strain that leads to increased violence or abuse.”

Carroll, a psychologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and senior author of the review published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.

Domestic violence – sometimes called intimate-partner violence – has been studied since the 1970s. Most research focused on women in opposite-sex relationships being abused by their male partners, Carroll and his coauthor write.

Domestic violence can include physical, sexual and psychological harm caused by current or past relationship partners, they point out.

According to Carroll, among the challenges that sometimes prevent researchers from collecting reliable data on domestic violence among same-sex couples is the partners’ reluctance to bring up the topic out of fear of being outed or blamed.

“It’s not as easy for same-sex couples to be open about these things in the first place,” he said.

The study team can’t say why domestic violence may be more common among same-sex couples, but they suggest it may result from the added stress of being a sexual minority.

For the new review, the researchers searched databases of medical research for studies on the prevalence of domestic violence among same-sex couples.

Based on the findings of four studies that had data on nearly 30,000 participants, they found that between one quarter and three quarters of lesbian, gay and bisexual people are the victims of domestic violence.

That rate is at least equal to the 25 percent of heterosexual women who experience domestic violence during their lifetimes.

“I think taken together it seems pretty clear that the true prevalence may be higher for same-sex couples,” Carroll said.

In addition to the added stress of being a sexual minority, another contributor to increased risk of domestic violence among same-sex couples could be that same-sex partners are unconsciously acting out an internalized homophobia they developed while being raised in a heterosexual society, Carroll added.

Source: freemalaysiatoday.com; Reuters

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