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National Helpline for LGBT+ Victims and Survivors of Abuse and Violence0800 999 5428

Email help@galop.org.uk

Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is any kind of threating behaviour committed by a family member or current or ex intimate partner.

What is domestic abuse?   

Domestic abuse can take many forms. Domestic abuse can affect anyone from any background and any identity. Domestic abuse can include psychological, sexual, economic, emotional or physical abuse, coercive or controlling behaviour, so-called honour-based violence or forced marriage. 

It can be difficult to recognise when someone close to is abusing you. Here are some questions that might help you look at what has happened to you. 

Does your current or former partner and/or family member:  

  • Call you names, humiliate, criticize, or belittle you? 
  • Use your gender or orientation as a basis for threats, intimidation or harm? 
  • Threaten to ‘out’ your orientation or gender identity? 
  • Threaten to harm you or others around you, including pets? 
  • Control you financially?  
  • Make unwanted advances or force you into sexual contact or unsafe sex? 
  • Use physical violence against you? 
  • Stalk or harass you, including online or via phone? 
  • Limit or control your movement or monitor your whereabouts and communication with others, including contact with friends, family, community, education or work? 
  • Accuse you of cheating on them or act excessively jealous? 
  • Use substances to control or harm you, or blame their alcohol or drug use for their abusive behaviour? 
  • Damage or withhold your belongings? 
  • Intentionally use the wrong pronouns? 
  • Deny you access to medical treatment or hormones? 
  • Use your race, ethnicity, immigration status or disability against you? 
  • Pressure or force you into marriage without your consent? 
  • Try to minimise their behaviour or blame you for their behaviour? 
  • Threaten to harm themselves if you leave or seek help? 

If you answered  yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing domestic abuse. You do not have to face what’s happening alone. 


Understanding LGBT+ experiences of domestic abuse  

There are some kinds of domestic abuse that can be based on your orientation or gender identity.

These can include: 

  • Threatening to disclose your romantic or sexual orientation, gender identity, gender history, or HIV status without your consent  
  • Coercive and controlling behaviour around your romantic or sexual orientation and/or gender identity 
  • Pressuring you to keep your identity or relationship secret 
  • Denying that LGBT+ people in intimate relationships can experience domestic abuse 
  • Isolating you from family, friends, and the LGBT+ community 
  • Undermining your romantic or sexual orientation and/or gender identity 
  • Using your hormones or gender-affirming medication to control 
  • Trying to change or supress your orientation or gender identity

LGBT+ people may be manipulated into believing that there is no help available to them because they are LGBT+.  They may also be told that abusive behaviours are ‘normal’ in LGBT+ relationships, or that LGBT+ cannot experience domestic abuse. Abuse from family members is sometimes not recognised as abuse and written off as a ‘family dispute’ or having ‘different values’.  

LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse might feel that domestic abuse services are not for them or may not understand what has happened to them. 


How to get help

If you or someone you know is LGBT+ and experiencing domestic abuse, Galop is here for you.

Get help

Information for LGBT+ survivors

Support for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and honour based violence

Domestic abuse and violence and LGBT+ communities

Staying safe online when accessing LGBT+ domestic abuse support

Emergency accommodation and housing

Advice for friends/family of LGBT+ people who might be an abusing/controlling partner

Advice for friends/family of LGBT+ people who might be in abusive relationships

Information for professionals

Barriers faced by LGBT+ people in accessing non-LGBT+ domestic abuse support services

Myths and stereotypes about abuse among LGBT+ people

Recognise and Respond: our report on the provision of services for LGBT+ domestic abuse victims and survivors in the UK

Commissioning for Inclusion: our guide for commissioners looking at provision of LGBT+ domestic abuse services

LGBT+ People’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse: a report on Galop’s domestic abuse advocacy service

Related content

If you’d like to reflect on LGBT+ experiences of domestic abuse further, or get support here are some places you might find helpful.

Support services

Our LGBT+ advocacy services support LGBT+ people who have experienced or are experiencing abuse or violence.


Our helplines are available for anyone in the UK who is LGBT+ and has experienced domestic abuse or hate crime. We are also there for friends, family members, and professionals supporting LGBT+ victims of abuse.

The LGBT+ Survivors Forum

An online forum for anyone who is LGBT+ and has experienced domestic abuse. Share your own experiences and support other survivors here.