What does a domestic abuse victim look like? If you are like most people, the first image that popped into your head was probably that of a battered, bruised woman. In many ways, the instinct to think of a female abuse victim is fairly accurate, as statistics show that about one in three women have been or will be victims of abuse at the hands of an intimate partner at some point in their lives. However, one in four men have been the victims of domestic violence or abuse as well, meaning that intimate partner violence is definitely not limited to women.
So, what does a domestic abuser look like? Once again, there is no such thing as a “typical” abuser. Despite portrayals in movies and public service announcements, not every abuser is a violent, testosterone-fueled man with substance abuse issues. Women are more than capable of inflicting abuse on their partners, both in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. In fact, men and women in same-sex relationships may be at an increased risk of domestic violence than those in heterosexual relationships.
Fear of Taking Action
There are countless reasons why a victim of domestic violence may refuse to seek help. Some may not allow themselves to recognize that the treatment that they have been forced to endure is actually abuse. Others manage to convince themselves that they deserved what happened or that they somehow did something to instigate the abuser. Still others are simply afraid of making things worse by reporting the abuse, or that nobody will believe their stories.
Concerns for Same-Sex Couples
Domestic violence victims in same-sex relationships are often even more fearful about seeking help, due to perceived cultural acceptance and stereotypes. The fear of not being believed is frequently heightened among gay and lesbian victims of domestic abuse, since their relationships, by nature, blur the lines regarding “typical” victims and abusers. Abuse victims in same-sex relationships may also be dealing with fears regarding:
- Being outed as gay by filing a report, before they are ready to address the issue with friends and family personally; and
- Homophobia. Many victims are afraid that those who should be providing help and support will refuse to do so or add more pressure because of the victim’s sexual orientation.
Despite major social evolution regarding attitudes toward same-sex couples, some victims may still believe that reporting an abuser of the same gender is somehow breaking solidarity with their community. There is often tremendous pressure for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals to support one another in any circumstance, and seeking help for domestic abuse, to some, may feel like they are betraying a group that is already somewhat isolated from mainstream society.
Helping Clients From Diverse Backgrounds
If you have been the victim of domestic violence, you need help. Contact an experienced family law attorney in St. Charles for assistance with your case. At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., we will work with you in protecting your rights and helping you find the security you deserve. Call 630-377-7770 today for a free initial consultation.