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This article presents the first systematic review on intimate partner violence (IPV) in self-identified lesbians in same-sex couples. Studies published from January 1990 to December 2013 were analyzed. Of the 687 studies reviewed, 59 were preselected, of which 14 studies were selected that met the inclusion and methodological quality criteria. A summary is presented of the characteristics of the studies, the participants, the prevalence of IPV victimization and perpetration, and its correlates. All the studies were carried out in the United States and used a nonprobabilistic sampling method. The majority of participants were White with a high educational level. The results indicate that all the forms of violence occur, but the most prevalent is emotional/psychological violence. The correlates positively associated with IPV are certain personality characteristics, fusion, previous IPV experience, a family history of violence, and alcohol consumption. This review finds significant limitations in the analyzed literature. Methodological recommendations are made for future studies. © The Author(s) 2015.
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Intimate Partner Violence in Self-Identified
Lesbians: A Systematic Review of Its
Prevalence and Correlates
Laura Badenes-Ribera
, Amparo Bonilla-Campos
Dolores Frias-Navarro
, Gemma Pons-Salvador
and Hector Monterde-i-Bort
This article presents the first systematic review on intimate partner violence (IPV) in self-identified lesbians in same-sex couples.
Studies published from January 1990 to December 2013 were analyzed. Of the 687 studies reviewed, 59 were preselected, of
which 14 studies were selected that met the inclusion and methodological quality criteria. A summary is presented of the
characteristics of the studies, the participants, the prevalence of IPV victimization and perpetration, and its correlates. All the
studies were carried out in the United States and used a nonprobabilistic sampling method. The majority of participants were
White with a high educational level. The results indicate that all the forms of violence occur, but the most prevalent is emotional/
psychological violence. The correlates positively associated with IPV are certain personality characteristics, fusion, previous IPV
experience, a family history of violence, and alcohol consumption. This review finds significant limitations in the analyzed liter-
ature. Methodological recommendations are made for future studies.
lesbian battering, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, systematic review
The study of violence in same-sex couples began at the end of
the 1980s and the beginning of the 90s (Brand & Kidd, 1986;
Island & Letellier, 1991; Kalichman & Rompa, 1995; Lobel,
1986; Renzetti, 1988). Since then, the number of studies
analyzing this topic has gradually increased, with research
carried out in different countries such as the United States,
Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and China,
among others (Barrett & St. Pierre, 2013; Chong, Mak, &
Kwong, 2013; Frankland & Brown, 2013; Hester, Donovan,
& Fahmy, 2010; Krahe´ & Berger, 2013).
The results of these studies have yielded disparate preva-
lence rates and correlates. Recent empirical evidence indicates
that violence in same-sex couples affects one quarter to nearly
three quarters of same-sex relationships (Stiles-Shields &
Carroll, 2014). This variability partly responds to the different
sampling and methodological characteristics of the studies
(Baker, Buik, Kim, Moniz, & Nava, 2013; Burke & Folling-
stad, 1999; Finneran & Stephenson, 2013; Lewis, Milletich,
Kelley, & Woody, 2012; Murray & Mobley, 2009). For exam-
ple, differences are found in the definition of intimate partner
violence (e.g., physical violence, emotional and psychologi-
cal violence, and sexual violence), the measures of partner
violence, the time period to which the violence corresponds
(e.g., over the lifetime, in the past 12 months, and 6 months),
the partner relationship being studied (e.g., stable partner and
occasional), the definition of sexual orientation (e.g., identity,
behavior, and sexual attraction), and the participants who
make up the study sample (e.g., general population, battered
people, people with substance abuse problems, and among
other specific conditions).
Regarding the type of sampling, the stigmatization of
homosexuality and relationships between same-sex partners
make it difficult to carry out studies with representative
samples, so that the majority of the studies were conducted
with small convenience samples. Moreover, as West (2012)
points out, the majority of the victimization surveys with
Department of Methodology of the Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Psychol-
ogy, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatments, Faculty
of Psychology, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
Department of Basic Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Valen-
cia, Valencia, Spain
Corresponding Author:
Laura Badenes-Ribera, Facultad de Psicologı
´a, Universidad de Valencia, Avda,
Blasco Iba
˜ez, 21. 46010 Valencia, Spain.
2016, Vol. 17(3) 284-297
ªThe Author(s) 2015
Reprints and permission:
DOI: 10.1177/1524838015584363
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representative samples have not evaluated the participants’
sexual orientation. In the few caseswhereitwasevaluated,
the sex of the perpetrator of the violence was not taken into
account. Therefore, it is not possible to know whether the
partner violence reported took place in a relationship between
people of the same sex or between people of different sexes
(e.g., Roberts, Austin, Corliss, Vandermorris, & Koenen,
2010; Walters, Chen, & Breiding, 2013). In these cases, the
assumption is often made that the sexual orientation is fixed
throughout life, that there is consistency between the sexual
orientation and the sexual behavior and, therefore, that the
partner’s sex is the same as that of the person reporting
the IPV. Consequently, the ratios of reported violence may
be inflated by including violence perpetrated by partners of
Mobley, 2009). Thus, it is important to evaluate the sex of the
perpetrator or whether the violence took place in a relation-
ship between people of the same sex (Rothman, Exner, &
Baughman, 2011).
Moreover, as Messinger (2014) points out, there is a persist-
ing dilemma when defining the population under study accord-
ing to the partner’s sex (namely, same-sex relationships) or the
sexual orientation (meaning relationships with at least one sex-
ual minority partner). This question is complicated by the use
of different criteria in defining sexual orientation, which can
lead to confusion when the results of different studies are com-
pared. As mentioned by Baker, Buik, Kim, Moniz, and Nava
(2013), it is not the same thing to be involved in same-sex rela-
tions (a behavior) as it is to identify oneself as a lesbian, gay,
bisexual, or transgender person (identity). In fact, very few
studies have approached both aspects simultaneously and
offered segregated data based on these criteria (see Kann
et al., 2011). The study by Roberts, Austin, Corliss, Vander-
morris, and Koenen (2010), using data from a representative
survey, evaluated sexual orientation in three dimensions:
identity, attraction, and the partner’s sex, although the small
sample size did not allow them to divide the group of women
identified as lesbians and bisexuals into the latter two dimen-
sions. In the case of women identified as heterosexual, they
found that having had a same-sex partner was associated with
higher rates of domestic violence victimization, although, as
mentioned previously, the data did not specify the sex of the
partner perpetrating the violence. In addition, Goldberg and
Meyer (2013) combined questions of sexual identity and
sexual activity (referring only to the past year) to classify the
subjects in mutually exclusive categories of sexual orien-
tation. However, in the case of self-identified lesbians, the
authors did not report the prevalence of victimization in
same-sex versus opposite-sex relationships.
In spite of the lack of evidence about the way the different
aspects of the definition of sexual orientation can affect IPV,
various studies suggest that sexual identity is more strongly
associated with victimization and mental health than sexual
attraction and sexual behavior are (McCabe, Bostwick,
Hughes, West, & Boyd, 2010; Roberts et al., 2010). Further-
more, Lewis, Milletich, Kelley, and Woody (2012) suggest that
sexual identity, specifically the lesbian identity, can act as a
protective factor in coping with the stress associated with
belonging to a minority, although the evidence in this regard
is scant and contradictory. In any case, sexual identity is shown
to be a potential moderator factor of IPV for lesbian, gay,
bisexual (LGB) people through the impact of the minority
stress they experience within a heterosexist social context
(Lewis, Milletich, Derlega, & Padilla, 2014; Stiles-Shields &
Carroll, 2014).
On the other hand, there is evidence of variability in the IPV
patterns in same-sex relationships in women from different
sexual minorities, in terms of both prevalence and factors that
can be correlated with this experience in each case, whether the
sexual orientation is evaluated through identity or behavior
(Balsam & Szymanski, 2005; Goldberg & Meyer, 2013;
Gumienny, 2010; Lewis et al., 2012; Messinger, 2011; Roberts
et al., 2010, Walters et al., 2013). For example, according to the
study by Messinger (2011), using data from a national survey
that defined the sexual orientation behaviorally based on the
history of marriage or living together, the victimization in
same-sex couples was more frequent in women defined as gays
than in women categorized as bisexual, regarding control beha-
viors (55.56%vs. 6.82%), verbal aggression (44%vs. 13.04%),
physical aggression (25%vs. 6.12%), and sexual abuse (3.57%
vs. 0%). However, this study did not explore non-cohabiting
relationships in same-sex partners or the way the sexual
identity (which may or may not coincide with the relationship
history) can be related to the IPV, for example, through the
stress associated with belonging to a minority or forms of
aggression specific to the LGB population (Baker et al.,
2013; Barrett & St Pierre, 2013). In this regard, Balsam and
Syzmanski (2005) found that women identified as bisexual,
compared to lesbians, were more likely to report LGB-
specific aggression against a female partner in the past year
(46.2%vs. 15.2%), while lesbians reported greater psycholo-
gical aggression against a female partner at some time in life.
Therefore, it is advisable to analyze partner violence sepa-
rately in lesbians and bisexual women or separately from dif-
ferent sexual minorities in general (Mason, Lewis, Milletich,
Kelley, Minifie, & Derlega, 2014).
Without ignoring the complexity of the definition of sex-
ual orientation and, therefore, the need to use combined cri-
teria, as well as the lack of a fixed sexual identification
throughout life, in this study we followed the recommenda-
tion of better describing the sexual orientation and the sex
of the partner in the study of IPV relations. Thus, in carrying
out the literature review, we tried to (1) establish a clear and
potentially significant criterion for defining the sexual orien-
tation and (2) ensure that the violence was studied in same-
sex relationships.
Thus, the purpose of our study is to provide a systematic
review that determines the prevalence and correlates of inti-
mate partner violence in same-sex relationships of self-
identified lesbians. Self-identified lesbians are understood to
be women who classify themselves as lesbians or gay women
(e.g., through self-report data; typically described using distinct
Badenes-Ribera et al. 285
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categories such as gay, lesbian, or bisexual; or through sexual
orientation measures).
There are narrative reviews on same-sex intimate partner
violence (e.g., Klostermann, Kelley, Milletich, & Mignone,
2011; McClennen, 2005; Murray, Mobley, Buford, & Seaman-
DeJohn, 2007; Stiles-Shields & Carroll, 2014), lesbian battering
(e.g., West, 2002), and IPV in sexual minority women (Lewis
et al., 2012), as well as systematic reviews on methodological
issues of studies on same-sex intimate partner violence
(Murray & Mobley, 2009), IPV in the LGB population (West,
2012), and sexual assault in the lesbian and gay (LG) popu-
lation (Rothamn, et al., 2011). However, the present study
is the first systematic review on same-sex intimate partner
violence in self-identified lesbians. This review clarifies
and summarizes the current body of scientific knowledge
on same-sex IPV in lesbians in response to calls for more
rigorous research on same-gender IPV (Mason et al., 2014).
Moreover, it identifies gaps in the current literature and
offers recommendations to improve the investigation of IPV
in same-sex relationships.
A systematic review of the literature was carried out (Perestelo-
Pe´rez, 2013; Sa´nchez-Meca, 2010; Shea et al., 2007; Wright,
Brand, Dunn, & Spindler, 2007).
Inclusion Criteria
Studies had to meet the following inclusion criteria:(1)they
December 2013, (2) they had to have been published in a
peer-reviewed journal, (3) they had to consist of an original
quantitative study; and (4) they had to have used a sample
composed, at least partly, of participants who self-identified
as lesbians and/or gay women. In addition, (5) the participants
who self-identified as lesbians and/or gay women had to have
been analyzed as a separate group within the study, and (6)
they had to have been part of the general population. That
is, the study population could not belong to a specific popula-
tion, such as drug users; persons accessing domestic violence
assistance resources; or samples coming from psychological
treatment, therapies, prison, racial minorities, and so on.
Moreover, (7) the study had to measure, in some way, inti-
mate partner violence in same-sex relationships, (8) the study
had to report on the prevalence of IPV and/or its correlates,
(9) the sample size had to be equal to or greater than 50, and
(10) the participants who self-identified as lesbians and/or gay
women had to be 16 years old or more.
Search Strategy
An electronic search was conducted from August 2013 to
following terms: intimate partner violence and lesbian, les-
bian domestic violence, lesbian violence, lesbian battering,
and abusive lesbian relationship. A total of 1,091 studies were
identified, 487 from PsycInfo and 604 from Pubmed.
In addition, a manual search was performed in the following
publications: Journal of Homosexuality;Journal of Lesbian
Studies;Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Service;Journal of
GLBT Family Studies;Journal of LGBT Health Research;
Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling;Journal of Interperso-
nal Violence;Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma;
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse;Journal of Family Violence;Psy-
chology of Women Quarterly;Violence Against Women; and
Women & Therapy, identifying a total of 92 studies.
A manual review was also conducted of the reference lists
from the studies included in this review, from relevant studies
on intimate partner violence between lesbian women, and from
previous literature reviews, locating only one additional study.
Finally, researchers and/or experts on same-sex intimate part-
ner violence were contacted.
In all, 1,184 studies were identified. Duplicated studies were
eliminated (n¼497). Therefore, the total number of studies to
review was 687.
Study Selection Procedure
The selection was carried out in two phases (preselection and
selection), both performed independently by two researchers.
Cohen’s kindex was used to calculate the level of interrater
agreement. In the preselection phase, the titles and abstracts
of the 687 studies located were scanned, and relevant studies
were preselected based on the inclusion criteria. Interrater
agreement was 90%. A total of 59 studies were preselected.
In the selection phase, the complete text of the 59 prese-
lected studies were reviewed. Given the degree of agreement,
and to guarantee greater reliability in the study selection, a
consensus process was initiated when there was disagreement
about the studies. Forty-four studies were excluded, 2 because
the complete text was not available, and 42 because they did
not fit the inclusion criteria (1 study was not original, 1 study
was qualitative, 10 studies were not composed of self-
identified lesbians, 21 studies did not analyze self-identified
lesbians as a separate group, in 3 studies the sample was from
a specific population, 3 did not evaluate IPV, 1 study did not
report on the prevalence of IPV, in 1 study the sample size
was less than 30 subjects, and, finally, in 1 study the partici-
pants were less than 16 years old). Therefore, 15 primary stud-
ies were selected.
Rating the Methodological Quality of the Primary Studies
The methodological quality of the 15 selected studies was rated
according to the standardized criteria of the ‘Methodological
criteria rating guide for descriptive studies on same-sex part-
ner violence’ developed by Murray and Mobley (2009, pp.
369–370). This rating guide is an adaptation of the evaluation
criteria for methodological quality used by Burke and Folling-
stad (1999), Heneghan, Horwitz, and Leventhal (1996), and
Murray and Graybeal (2007). The evaluation was performed
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independently by two researchers. Disagreements were resolved
by consensus between the reviewers.
The rating guide consists of 15 criteria with a dichotomous
response scale. The presence of the criterion is given 1 point
and its absence 0 points. The total score is 15 points. Some
items are, for example, ‘‘Does the study specify how partici-
pants’ sexual orientation is measured or categorized?’’ ‘‘Are
the partners within the same relationship and (a) not both
included in the same sample or (b) paired in the analysis of
the data?’’ ‘‘Do the variables measured represent multiple
levels (attitudinal, behavioral, and observational)?’’ ‘‘Are
eligibility criteria for participation in the study specified?’’
‘Is the study clear as to types(s) of abuse measured within the
study?’’ or ‘‘Are definitions of the types of abuse measured
The studies were classified based on their degree of metho-
dological quality. A stratification system was used that was
similar to those used by Heneghan, Horwitz, and Leventhal
(1996), Murray and Graybeal (2007), and Murray and Mobley
(2009). The studies were classified as (1) acceptable studies:
studies that received at least 11 points (70%of the total score),
(2) adequate studies: studies with a score between 6 and 10
points (between 40%and 69%of the total score), and (3) unac-
ceptable studies: studies that obtain scores of between 0 and 5
points (less than 40%of the total score). The present review
included studies rated as ‘‘acceptable studies’’ or ‘‘adequate
Only the study by Carvalho, Lewis, Derlega, Winstead, and
Viggiano (2011) was considered unacceptable, with a score of
less than 40%of the total (nonprobabilistic sample, lack of
inclusion and exclusion criteria, inadequate treatment of the
members of the same couple, unspecified timing of data collec-
tion, IPV measured through a specific question about victimi-
zation, not specifying the type of IPV evaluated or providing
a definition of IPV, no control of social desirability, and,
finally, the participation conditions were not standardized
because the survey was online). Therefore, the study was
excluded from the systematic review.
The rest of the studies were considered adequate, obtaining
a score of between 40%and 69%of the total, and they were
included in the review. However, none of the studies was con-
sidered acceptable, given that they all presented various meth-
odological limitations (e.g., nonprobabilistic sampling, not
specifying exclusion or inclusion criteria, not establishing stan-
dardized participation conditions, not specifying the timing of
data collection, not controlling social desirability, etc.).
Data Extraction
The data were extracted by two reviewers independently. Dis-
agreements were resolved by consensus. Data were extracted
on study characteristics (authors and year, research design,
geographic location, definition of violence, and measurement
instrument), sample characteristics (size, age, ethnicity, educa-
tional level, and income level), prevalence of victimization and
perpetration of intimate partner violence, and IPV correlates.
The study selection process is presented in Figure 1.
Description of the Studies
Table 1 describes the main characteristics of the 14 studies. All
of the studies were carried out in the United States, and they
used a cross-sectional design and nonprobabilistic sampling
methods (e.g., mailing list of a lesbian organization, snowball
sampling through lesbian and lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-
gender [LGBT] organizations, pride events, and other commu-
nity contacts). Nine studies established sample inclusion
criteria. Five studies included self-identified lesbian women
as a criterion for participating in the study sample (Balsam,
Rothblum, & Beauchaine, 2005; Lie & Gentlewarrier, 1991;
Lie, Schilit, Bush, Montagne, & Reyes, 1991; Scherzer,
1998; Turell, 2000). One study included women who were or
had been in an intimate relationship with another women in the
period indicated (Eaton et al., 2008), another study included
women over the age of 18 who were or had been in an intimate
relationship with another woman (Balsam & Szymanski,
2005), and finally, two studies included self-identified lesbian
women who were or had been in an intimate relationship with
another woman during the 6–12 months prior to the study
(Miller, Greene, Causby, White, & Lockhart, 2001; Telesco,
The studies’ sample sizes ranged from 104 (Schilit, Lie, &
Montagne, 1990; Schilit, Lie, Bush, Montagne, & Reyes,
1991) to 1,099 participants (Lie & Gentlewarrier, 1991). In all
the studies, the majority of the participants were White, with
different percentages of other ethnic groups. Only two studies
were conducted exclusively with White women (Waldner-
Haugrud, Vaden, & Magruder, 1997; Waldner-Haugrud &
Vaden, 1997).
The participants’ ages ranged between 16 (1 study) and 60
or more (1 study), with a mean age of approximately 34. The
participants’ educational level was specified in 10 studies. It
was rated in two different ways: (a) by years of education (two
studies) and (b) by educational level reached (eight studies).
For years of education received, the mean was 14.2 years
(Eaton et al., 2008), with a median of 16 years (Lie et al.,
1991). For the educational level reached, the majority of the
participants had higher studies (university). Income level was
evaluated in 11 studies. In general, the participants’ income
level was medium (above US$17,000), while it was medium-
high in only three studies (income above US$30,000).
Definition of IPV
Ten different definitions of violence were used (taking into
account that one study can use different definitions). The
majority (57.14%) used their own definitions for the study
(eight studies). The definition itself could consist of 1 item,
such as, ‘‘if you are currently in a lesbian relationship, is it abu-
sive?’’ (Schilit et al., 1990, p. 58) and ‘‘have you ever been
Badenes-Ribera et al. 287
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abused by a female lover/partner?’’ (Lie & Gentlewarrier,
1991, p. 46). Or the definition could consist of a checklist of
abusive behaviors based on standardized instruments (Lie &
Gentlewarrier, 1991), lists developed by other authors (Eaton
et al., 2008; Lie et al., 1991), lists from battered women shelters
(Turell, 2000), a community survey to evaluate the needs of
LG people (Rose, 2003), or the authors’ own lists to evaluate
different types of violence (Schilit et al., 1991) or some spe-
cific type of violence (Waldner-Haugrud & Vaden, 1997).
The rest of the studies (six) used a validated scale. The most
frequently utilized scale was the Conflict Tactics Scale (five
studies). Different versions of this scale were used (original
scale, modified scale, and revised scale). Moreover, the psy-
chological maltreatment of women inventory was used in one
study, and the abusive behaviors inventory was employed in
another. Four studies included the evaluation of intimate
partner violence tactics that are relevant/specific to lesbians
or LGB people (Balsam & Szymanski, 2005; Eaton et al.,
2008, Scherzer, 1998; Turell, 2000). Three studies related the
violence to the existence of abusive behaviors in the couple
(Miller et al., 2001; Schilit et al., 1990, 1991). For the pur-
poses of the present review, their results were included as
estimations of the prevalence of victimization.
Prevalence of Victimization in Intimate Partner Violence
All the studies reported on the prevalence of at least one form
of intimate partner violence at some point in their lives (see
Table 2). Five victimization time periods were used. These
periods ranged from having experienced some type of inti-
mate partner violence in the past year (two studies) to having
experienced it at some time in life (five studies). Two studies
Studies Included
N =14
Selected Studies
N =15
Rating of methodological quality
Excluded Studies → n =1
Read Complete Text
- Non-original investigation: 1
- Qualitative Research: 1
- Lesbians not self-identified: 10
- Lesbians not analysed as a separate
group: 21
- Not general population: 3
- Does not evaluate Intimate Partner
Violence: 3
- Does not report on prevalence: 1
- Sample size < 30: 1
- Age of participants < 16:1
- Text not available: 2
Excluded Studies → n=44
Pre-selected studies
N =59
Read Title and Abstract
Excluded Studies → n=628
Studies identified
-Databases → n=1091
-Scientific Journals → n=92
-References → n=1
Studies to review
N =687
Duplicated Studies
Excluded Studies → n=497
Figure 1. Flow process in selecting the primary studies.
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Table 1. Description of Primary Studies.
Year Study N
(mean) Ethnicity Level of Education Location
1990 Schilit, Lie,
and Montagne
104 Mailing list
of a lesbian
34.7 White: 93%,
2%, Black:
1%, NA: 1%,
other: 3%
Education beyond the
undergraduate level:
Tucson Unique
1991 Lie and
1,099 Convenience
sample of
music festival
30.6 White: 87%,
Black: 4%,
3%, other:
Not reported Michigan Unique
1991 Lie, Schilit, Bush,
Montagne, and
174 Mailing list of a
and snowball
Mdn ¼34 White: 90.3% Mdn ¼16 years Tucson Unique
1991 Schilit, Lie, Bush,
Montagne, and
104 Mailing list of a
34.7 White: 93%,
2%, Black:
1%, NA:1%,
other: 3%
Beyond the undergraduate
level: 41%
Tucson Unique
1997 Waldner-Haugrud,
Vaden, and
118 Snowball
32 White: 100% > Possessing or in the
process of obtaining a
college degree
Iowa M-CTS
1997 Waldner-Haugrud
and Vaden
111 Snowball
32 White: 100% > Possessing or in the
process of obtaining a
college degree
Iowa Unique
1998 Schezer 256 Snowball
sampling and
surveys in
public place
Black: 44%,
API: 12%,
NA: 2%,
Latin: 10%,
AA: 10%,
other: 11%
At least some college
education: 97%
2000 Turell
250 Snowball
38.1 White: 75%,
Latin: 8%,
AA: 9%,
Br:4%, NA:
3%, other:
Not reported Houston Unique
2001 Miller, Greene,
Causby, White,
and Lockhart
284 Convenience
sample of
music festival
>White Not reported Southeast
2003 Rose 229 Convenience
sample of gay
pride event
30 White: 79% At least some college
education: 85%
St. Louis Unique
2003 Telesco 105 Convenience
sample from
40 White: 67%,
AA: 22%,
Latin: 11%
At least a bachelor’s
degree: 28%
New York ABI
2005 Balsam, Rothblum,
and Beauchaine
332 Convenience
sample from
36.6 EA: 91.7%, AA:
1.1%, AsA:
NA: 0.6%,
Br: 2.7%,
other: 0.8%
Not reported National
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did not specify the recollection period, at least in the data
analysis presented here (Balsam et al., 2005; Turell, 2000),
and three studies did not use a specific time frame but instead
referred to intimate partner violence within the current or
most recent relationship.
Victimization prevalence ranged between 9.6%and 51.5%
(Lie et al., 1991), both referring to the perception of the cur-
rent or past intimate relationships, respectively, as abusive.
For lists of behaviors, the data ranged between 12.2%(Rose,
2003) and 73.4%(Lie et al., 1991), with the majority of the
studies showing a prevalence of around 40%–50%(with
higher rates corresponding to longer periods of time evalu-
ated). The most frequently evaluated form of intimate partner
violence was physical violence (nine studies), with a preva-
lence ranging between 2.6%for a specific behavior—using
a weapon (Waldner-Haugrud et al., 1997)—and 3%for mul-
tiple forms of physical abuse as the only form of violence in
the couple (Lie & Gentlewarrier, 1991), and 58%(Turell,
2000). Prevalence rates for physical violence received at some
time in life (around 40–50%) were higher than those found in
the most recent relationships (between 9%and 17%), and
they were higher for milder forms of physical aggression than
Table 1. (continued)
Year Study N
(mean) Ethnicity Level of Education Location
2005 Balsam and
210 Convenience
sample of
‘‘pride’’ event
and snowball
34.75 EA:85%, AA:
6%, L/H: 2%,
AsA: 1%,
NA: 1%, Br:
Some or no high school:
1%, high school
diploma: 3%, some
college: 20%, college
degree: 30%, some
graduate school: 16%,
school: 30%
3% Canada
2008 Eaton et al.
189 Convenience
sample of gay
pride event
33.3 White:82.03%,
AA: 9.68%,
L/H: 2.76%,
AsA: 0.92%,
other: 4.61%
14.2 years Atlanta Unique
Note. Mdn ¼median. > ¼majority. Ethnicity: L/H ¼Latin/Hispanic; LGBT ¼lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual; Br ¼biracial; EA ¼European American; AA ¼
African American; AsA ¼Asian American; NA ¼Native American; API ¼Asian and Pacific Islander. Violence definition: CTS-2 ¼Conflicts Tactics Scale Revised;
M-CTS ¼Conflicts Tactics Scale Modified; ABI ¼abusive behavior inventory.
Sociodemographic data calculated on the total sample.
Table 2. Victimization in IPV Recall Period (%).
Year Study Any IPV Physical Sexual Psychological/Emotional
Current or most recent relationship
1990 Schilit, Lie, and Montagne 37.5
1991 Lie et al. 9.6 11.6 8.9 24
1998 Scherzer 17 31
Last year
2001 Miller et al. 46.1
, 14.1
2003 Rose 12.2 8.7 2.2 7.4
Last 5 years
2008 Eaton et al. 43.39
1991 Lie and Gentlewarrier 50.2 3 0.6 18
1991 Lie et al. 51.5 45 56.8 64.5
1991 Schilit et al. 44.2
1997 Waldner-Haugrud and Vaden 45
1997 Waldner-Haugrud et al. 47.5 2.6–37.9 26.7
Not specified
2000 Turell 55, 58
14 L, 11G
, 77G
2005 Balsam et al. 37.65
Note. Blank table cells were not measured or not reported. CTS ¼Conflicts Tactics Scale; IPV ¼intimate partner violence. Physical ¼physical.
Physical aggression (CTS).
Physical violence (CTS).
Physical assault. Sexual ¼sexual,
coercion. Psychological ¼psychological,
Emotional abuse.
Gay women.
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for more severe forms of violence. The least evaluated vio-
lence was economic violence (1 study), with a prevalence of
46%in lesbians and 33%in gay women (Turell, 2000). The
second most evaluated form of violence was psychological/
emotional violence (7 studies), withaprevalenceratethatran-
ged between 7.4%, specifically for stalking (Rose, 2003) and
18%for psychological/emotional/verbal abuse as the only
form of violence in the couple (Lie & Gentlewarrier, 1991),
and 64.5%(Lie et al., 1991). Two studies defined violence
as emotional abuse, reporting a victimization prevalence of
between 31%(Scherzer, 1998) and 84%(Turell, 2000). The
study by Scherzer included relevant behaviors for lesbians
(e.g., threats to out the partner).
Sexual violence was evaluated in six studies, with its preva-
lence ranging between 0.6%for nonconsensual sex or sexual
torture as the only form of violence in the couple (Lie & Gen-
tlewarrier, 1991) or 2.2%for sexual assault (Rose, 2003), and
56.8%(Lie et al., 1991).
Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration
Prevalence of intimate partner violence perpetration (see
Table 3) was only evaluated in five studies, with different
recollection periods (at some point in life or in the past year)
or with no specific time period (within the current intimate
Intimate partner violence perpetration was evaluated in a
general sense by four studies. Perpetration ratios oscillated
between 17%and 75%(Telesco, 2003). The most frequently
evaluated form of IPV was psychological/emotional violence
(five studies), with a prevalence ratio of between 14.7%for
psychological/emotional/verbal abuse as the only form of vio-
lence toward the partner (Lie & Gentlewarrier, 1991) and 71%
for a specific behavior such as looking angrily at the partner
(Telesco, 2003). The highest abuse rates were found in beha-
viors with lower levels of severity—from 21%to 71%(Tele-
sco, 2003). Another specific behavior was making threats,
with a prevalence ratio of 16.3%(Waldner-Haugrud et al.,
1997). Finally, only one study evaluated the perpetration of
specific psychological violence in same-sex couples in the past
year, finding a rate of 15.2%(Balsam & Szymanski, 2005).
Physical violence was evaluated in four studies and pre-
sented ratios of between 1%for a specific behavior like
frequently pushing the partner (Telesco, 2003) and 32.5%(Lie
et al., 1991). Another specific behavior was hitting the partner
with an object, with a rate of 3.5%(Waldner-Haugrud et al.,
1997), and a rate of 4.7%for multiple forms of physical abuse
as the only form of violence toward the partner (Lie & Gentle-
warrier, 1991). Once again, the highest rates of abuse were
found in behaviors with lower levels of severity, and the rates
tended to be higher as longer time periods were evaluated. Two
studies evaluated sexual violence perpetration, which ranged
between 0.6%for nonconsensual sex or sexual torture as
the only form of violence toward the partner and 1.4%for a
combined form of sexual, physical, and psychological violence
(Lie & Gentlewarrier, 1991), and 31.4%(Lie et al., 1991).
Correlates of Intimate Partner Violence
Only 11 studies evaluated possible correlates of intimate part-
ner violence in self-identified lesbians in same-sex relation-
ships. The correlates can be grouped in six categories: (1)
sociodemographic characteristics, (2) personality characteris-
tics, (3) relational characteristics, (4) history of intimate partner
violence, (5) history of family violence, and (6) health.
Regarding the sociodemographic questions, only two stud-
ies analyzed the relationship between sexual orientation and
IPV (Balsam & Syzmanski, 2005; Eaton et al., 2008), and
they obtained contradictory results. Balsam and Syzmanski
found statistically significant differences in IPV between
bisexual women and lesbians. Bisexual women were more
likely than lesbians to report LGB-specific aggression against
a female partner in the past year, while lesbians reported more
lifetime psychological aggression against a female partner
than bisexual women. However, Eaton et al. did not report any
statistically significant differences among bisexual women,
heterosexual women, and lesbians.
The personality characteristics were analyzed in two stud-
ies (Miller et al., 2001; Telesco, 2003). The correlates analyzed
were low self-esteem, need to control, independence (Miller
et al., 2001), dependence, jealousy, femininity, masculinity,
and power (Telesco, 2003). The studies presented contradictory
results for the dependence–independence trait. In the study by
Table 3. Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Perpetration by Recall Period (%).
Year Study Any IPV Physical Sexual Psychological/Emotional
Current relationship
1991 Lie et al. 22.6 10.3 11 21.2
2003 Telesco 17
Last year
2005 Balsam and Szymanski 15.2
1991 Lie and Gentlewarrier 3.8, 26.3
4.7 .6 14.7
1991 Lie et al. 67.5 32.5 31.4 61
1997 Waldner-Haugrud et al. 38 29.3 16.3
Note. Blank table cells were not measured or not reported. IPV ¼intimate partner violence; LGB ¼lesbian, gay, bisexual. Psychological ¼psychological.
One incident of abuse.
More than one incident of abuse.
LGB-specific tactics of psychological aggression.
Perpetrator and victim.
Badenes-Ribera et al. 291
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Miller, Greene, Causby, White, and Lockhart, lesbians were
asked to describe themselves by using a list of six personality
traits reflecting independence (higher score indicated greater
independence). This study found a positive and statistically
significant relationship between independence and greater use
of both physical aggression and physical violence conflict tac-
tics in the relationship. Telesco measured dependence through
and items of his own creation. This author found a positive but
not statistically significant relationship between dependence
and IPV perpetration. Moreover, jealousy, low self-esteem,
and the need to control were positively and significantly asso-
ciated with IPV.
The relational characteristics were analyzed in only one
study (Miller et al., 2001). Miller et al. analyzed the association
between the levels of their own fusion and their partner’s fusion
with physical aggression and physical violence. Lesbians were
asked how often she or her partner felt the need to share recrea-
tional and social activities, felt the need to do everything
together, felt the need for independent time with friends, made
regular phone calls to partner while at work, insisted on sharing
professional services, attempted mind reading as a form of
communication, and insisted on sharing money and clothing
(a higher score indicated greater fusion). The results revealed
a positive and statistically significant association between their
own fusion levels and the partner’s fusion levels with IPV.
The past experience with partner violence was analyzed in
one study (Lie et al., 1991). Lie et al. observed a positive and
statistically significant relationship between IPV victimization
in past relationships and victimization/perpetration in the cur-
rent relationship with a woman. They also found a positive and
statistically significant relationship between IPV perpetration
in past intimate partner relationships and victimization/perpe-
tration in the current relationship.
The family history of violence was analyzed in two studies
(Lie et al., 1991; Schilit et al., 1991). The results indicated pos-
itive and statistically significant relationships between experi-
encing or witnessing violence in the family of origin and
intimate partner violence victimization/perpetration.
Finally, regarding the health correlates, only the study by
Schilit, Lie, and Montagne (1990) examined the relationship
between substance use and IPV (Schilit et al., 1990). They
found a positive and statistically significant relationship
between alcohol consumption and IPV. However, there was
no statistically significant relationship between drug use and
intimate partner violence.
The purpose of this systematic review was to synthesize the
current body of knowledge about intimate partner violence
in self-identified lesbians in same-sex couples. In general
terms, the findings situate the victimization rate at between
9.6%and 73.4%(Lie et al., 1991) and the perpetration rate
at between 17%and 75%(Telesco, 2003). However, previous
reviews establish a range of between 20%and 50%(Burke,
Jordan, & Owen, 2002; McClennen, 2005; Murray et al.,
2007). The discrepancy between the rates could be explained
by the sample considered, that is, the present review only ana-
lyzed studies that used samples of self-identified lesbians
extracted from the general population, analyzed them sepa-
rately from other groups of women (bisexual women, women
with a history of living with another woman ... ), and spec-
ified the sex of the perpetrator. Consequently, all of the stud-
ies analyzed were based on convenience samples. The studies
based on probabilistic samples tend to provide lower rates of
prevalence of victimization than convenience studies, which
may explain the high magnitude of the rates found in the stud-
ies reviewed here. For example, Goldberg and Meyer (2013)
found that the women who self-identified as lesbians reported
ratios of victimization of 10.23%in IPV in the past year and
of victimization of 31.87%at some time in life. Moreover,
Roberts et al. (2010) reported a prevalence of victimization
of 16.10%. Finally, Walters, Chen, and Breiding (2013) found
that 43.8%of lesbian women had been victims of rape, phys-
ical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during
their lifetime.
On the other hand, these studies with probabilistic samples
show that lesbian women have suffered more violence from
their partners than heterosexual women, but less IPV than
bisexual women. Thus, Walters et al. (2013) found that 44%
of lesbian women, 61%of bisexual women, and 35%of het-
erosexual women have experienced physical violence, stalk-
ing, or rape as a result of IPV. Goldberg and Meyer (2013)
found that bisexual women presented higher ratios of vic-
timization in couple violence in the past year (27.48%)and
at some time in life (51.99%) than lesbian women (10.23%
and 31.87%, respectively). In 95%of the cases, the violence
experienced by bisexual women in the past year was perpe-
trated by a male partner. Moreover, Roberts et al. (2010) also
report a greater prevalence of victimization through domestic
violence in bisexual women (20.17%) and in heterosexual
women with a same-sex couple history (23.81%)thanin
women identified as lesbians (16.10%). However, Messinger
(2011) found that the victimization in same-sex couples was
more frequent in women defined as gays than in women cate-
gorized as bisexuals.
Furthermore, the results of this review show that the preva-
lence rate of both IPV victimization and perpetration varies
depending on the severity of the behaviors evaluated. The high-
est rates correspond to milder forms of violence, compared to
more severe forms. The rates also vary depending on whether
they refer to specific behaviors or unique forms of violence,
compared to combined indexes of violence, or whether the
studies use a global or general measure of abuse or specific
behavior indicators. However, knowing how frequent and
severe a certain violent behavior is does not reveal anything
about the type of intimate partner violence being analyzed
(Kimmel, 2002). Types of IPV are differentiated by the context
of control in which they develop, and not by the frequency or
nature of the violent acts (Johnson, 2006; Pence, 2006). For
example, Frankland and Brown (2013), in a sample of same-
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sex couples, found higher rates of physical aggression in
‘situational couple violence’’ than in ‘‘intimate terrorism.’
The authors suggest that the physical violence does not have
to be frequent when one member of the couple has already
established a high degree of control over the other. Moreover,
in this study the ratios of physical aggression were higher in
situations of ‘‘violent resistance’’ than in ‘‘situational couple
violence,’’ leading the authors to conclude that measuring
physical violence without measuring the control in the cases
of ‘‘violent resistance’’ could cause an individual to be labeled
as a ‘‘perpetrator’’ and his or her partner as a ‘‘victim.’’ There-
fore, there is a need to evaluate the context in which the vio-
lence occurs (Johnson, 2010; Kimmel, 2002; Renzetti, 1992;
West, 2012) and, with it, identify the type of partner violence
in order to implement efficacious interventions. Of the studies
reviewed here, only one (Lie et al., 1991) evaluated the use of
violence (as self-defense vs. mutual aggression) in addition to
the combined occurrence of victimization and perpetration
within the relationship. This situation arose in one third of the
past relationships with a male partner, in two thirds of the
previous relationships with a female partner, and in almost
20%in the current lesbian relationships. Moreover, it was more
likely for the use of violence to be characterized as self-defense
in opposite-sex relationships, while in same-sex relationships it
was more frequently described as mutual aggression. The mere
comparison of rates of violence does not make it possible to
clarify to what degree the relationship can be based on
dynamics of control and domination, or what factors could
influence the recognition of the use or experience of abuse
(Scherzer, 1998; Waldner-Haugrud et al., 1997).
In addition, it is important to point out the limitation
involved in asking the participants if they have suffered abuse,
without defining what is meant by abuse (e.g., Lie & Gentle-
warrier, 1991, for ‘‘verbal/emotional/psychological abuse’’),
and evaluate the violence or abuse that exists in the couple
(e.g., Schilit et al., 1990). This latter strategy does not make
it possible to distinguish between victimization and perpetra-
tion, inflating the data in some cases, above all when the pres-
ence of couples in the sample is not controlled (Murray &
Mobley, 2009; Waldner-Haugrud et al., 1997). The former
could cause the abuse to be underestimated because partici-
pants may not consider milder forms of abuse. Therefore, it
is recommended that researchers clearly specify their defini-
tions of abuse, ideally using objective scales of identifiable
behaviors, and separating types of abuse for the analyses
(Burke & Follingstad, 1999).
Regarding the forms of violence, emotional/psychological
violence was experienced and perpetrated the most, as found
in studies about partner violence in lesbians and women with
a prior history of same-sex partners (e.g., Matte & LaFontaine,
2011; McClennen, Summers, & Daley, 2002; Messinger, 2011)
and in heterosexual women. However, few studies evaluated
the specific psychological tactics of same-sex partner violence
(homophobic control). Therefore, future studies should con-
sider including the evaluation of intimate partner violence tac-
tics that are specific/relevant to lesbians or LGB people (Lewis
et al., 2012; West, 2012). Sexual violence was the least fre-
quently studied form of intimate partner violence, both regard-
ing victimization and perpetration. In this case, the prevalence
ratios must be viewed with caution, given that the definitions of
violence used are quite broad and include behaviors (such as
sexual insults) that could be categorized as verbal/emotional/
psychological violence, as the authors themselves recognize
(Lie et al., 1991), or they refer to physical and psychological
sexual abuse tactics (Waldner-Haugrud & Vaden, 1997).
Moreover, the abused lesbians had been victims of more
than one form of abuse by their partner, as found in previous
studies with lesbians (McClennen et al., 2002; Renzetti,
1992) and heterosexual women (Garcı´a-Moreno, Jansen, Ells-
berg, Heise, & Watts, 2005). Specifically, the study by Lie and
Gentlewarrier (1991) indicates a prevalence of combined forms
of sexual, physical, and psychological violence of 28.6%in the
case of victimization and 10.8%for perpetration.
Finally, regarding the correlates of partner violence, in the
studies analyzed, jealousy, the need to control, independence,
and low self-esteem were found to be related to IPV. IPV was
also associated with high levels of fusion in the partner, prior
experiences of victimization, and/or perpetration of intimate
partner violence, being a victim of or witnessing violence in
the family of origin, and alcohol consumption. Although the
evidence for these associations is scarce, the findings agree
with other studies on same-sex couples (Bimbi, Palmadessa,
& Parsons, 2008; Burke & Owen, 2006; Causby, Lockhart,
& White, 1995; Craft, Serovich, McKenry, & Lim, 2008;
Fortunata & Khon, 2003; Gumienny, 2010; Lockhart, White,
Causby, & Isaac, 1994; McClennen et al., 2002; Renzetti,
1988, 1992). Thus, for example, Bimbi et al. (2008), in a com-
bined sample of lesbian and nonlesbian women, found that
IPV was related to the use of alcohol and certain drugs like
cocaine. Burke and Owen (2006) pointed out that low self-
esteem is related to same-sex partner violence. Fortunata and
Khon (2003) found higher levels of substance abuse and more
experiences of childhood physical and sexual abuse in a com-
bined sample of lesbian and bisexual women who mistreat
their partners than in the women who do not. Gumienny
(2010) found that the tactics of power and control, fusion,
internalized homophobia, and family history of violence pre-
dicted aggression in couple relationships between women.
McClennen, Summers, and Daley (2002) found that jealousy,
high levels of fusion, dependence, and the use of substances
were associated with partner violence in lesbian women.
The different factors involved in intimate partner violence
in self-identified lesbians, according to this review, can be
placed at different levels of an ecological model (Baker
et al., 2013), mainly at the individual level, of the personal
history and the dyadic relationship, some of which have been
specifically associated with lesbian relationships (jealousy,
fusion, and dependence; McClennen et al., 2002; Renzetti,
1992; Waldner-Haugrud et al., 1997). The apparent contradic-
tion in the results on dependence in the studies by Miller et al.
(2001) and Telesco (2003) can be explained, among other fac-
tors, by differences in the violence evaluated (abuse in the
Badenes-Ribera et al. 293
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relationship vs. perpetration) as well as in the definition and
operationalization of the dependence-independence construct
(as a personality trait vs. relational characteristic). In fact,
according to Renzetti (1992), the role this construct plays in
IPV can be understood based on the tensions and conflicts that
it can produce in the dynamic of the relationship. The study by
Miller et al. suggests that there can also be a personal disposi-
tion to this type of dynamic, but without clarifying whether it
is associated with a greater probability of victimization or per-
petration of violence. There is a need for more research on this
question in order to better understand the interpersonal
dynamic and the role played by the power differentials in abu-
sive relationships between lesbians (Messinger, 2014; Murray
et al., 2007).
However, none of the studies analyzed examined sexual
minority stress as a possible correlate of partner violence in
self-identified lesbians (analyzed as a separate group), which
is related to factors at the social macro-system level, specifi-
cally the influence of heterosexism. The literature has linked
sexual minority stress to IPV (Edwards & Sylaska, 2013;
Gumienny, 2010). Only the study by Carvalho et al. (2011),
included in preselected studies but not part of this review,
analyzed this question. In their study, sexual minority stress
was associated with IPV victimization and perpetration.
Specifically, stigma consciousness was associated with IPV
victimization and perpetration, and openness was associated
with IPV victimization. However, internalized homophobia
was unrelated to IPV. Therefore, future studies should clarify
the relationship between sexual minority stress and IPV in
self-identified lesbians. Thus, Lewis, Milletich, Derlega, and
Padilla (2014) found that internalized homophobia and social
constraints in talking with friends about sexual identity issues
were associated with the frequency of past-year psychological
aggression in lesbian women’s intimate relationships through
rumination and relationship satisfaction.
Furthermore, another question to take into account in
future studies is the need to broaden the research on correlates
of IPV, particularly those related to health, beyond the use of
alcohol and drugs, and clarify their relationship with violence
in lesbian couples.
The systematic review shows that IPV occurs in the couple
relationships of self-identifiedlesbianswithotherwomen.All
forms of IPV take place, and, in addition to the correlates
associated with IPV in opposite-sex couples, there are factors
specific to the LG population that stem from the homophobic
context in which they are immersed, or that are characteristics
of the relationship dynamics that can be established between
lesbian women (e.g., homophobic control and fusion).
The high rates of IPV suggest that there is a need to develop
and implement programs for violence prevention in same-sex
couples that take into account the specific characteristics of
abuse in lesbian and gay men couples and in sexual minority
couples, in general.
The IPV in same-sex relationships is linked to heterosexism
and factors fomented by a homophobic context. In this sense, it
would be necessary to develop intervention programs directed
to the LG population that would teach them strategies for cop-
ing with the discrimination and prejudice they may experience
in a heterosexual-dominated society. These strategies can
buffer the interiorizing of heterosexist attitudes, thus reducing
the IPV in same-sex relationships (Lewis et al., 2014).
In addition, there is also a need for education and training
programs in same-sex partner violence for service providers
not specifically serving LGBT people (e.g., health care, social
services, criminal justice professionals, etc.). Heterosexism
among service providers has kept many victims of same-sex
intimate partner violence from seeking help. Moreover, the
abusers have used it as a tool to dissuade victims from asking
for help (Messinger, 2014).
Finally, as many victims find it difficult to recognize the
abuse, there is also a need for education programs and cam-
paigns directed toward the LGBT community itself, in order
to increase the knowledge about same-sex couple abuse. These
information campaigns would also allow abused lesbian
women to have information about the available service provi-
ders in situations of partner abuse, which would facilitate help
seeking in these situations. These programs and campaigns
would have to have economic support from public institutions.
The main limitation of this systematic review is the low number
of studies analyzed. However, this fact is a result of the strict
inclusion and methodological quality criteria for the primary
studies, in order to assure the quality of the evidence they pro-
vide. Thus, it was considered more important to summarize the
evidence from studies with high methodological quality than to
use a larger number of studies with lower quality.
On the other hand, this review refers to studies focused on a
specific population, self-identified lesbians, and the results
cannot be considered representative of IPV in women from
other sexual minorities (bisexual women or women who have
sex with women but do not self-identify as LB) or lesbian
women who are not open about their sexual identity. In the
same way, the results cannot be generalized to the IPV in
self-identified lesbians in relationships with the opposite sex.
A general limitation in the research on IPV in same-sex couples
is the fact that studies do not consider the sexual orientation of
the partners of the participants, a limitation that should be taken
into account in future studies, in addition to the sex of the part-
ner (Messinger, 2014).
Future Research Directions
Given the methodological limitations detected in the primary
studies (Burke & Follingstad, 1999; Murray & Mobley,
2009), future studies should use the same definitions of partner
violence and forms of violence (e.g., Centers for Disease Con-
trol and Prevention, 2010); report on the same recollection
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periods; evaluate the sexual orientation of the participants (pre-
ferably using multiple-choice scales based on sexual identity);
evaluate the sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation of the
participants’ partners; and analyze the data in separate groups
(sexual identity and period of recollection). This would facili-
tate the integration of the results in later meta-analytic studies
and the comparison of different studies.
It would also be advisable to use multiple methods for
evaluating IPV, given that it is a complex phenomenon (Fol-
lingstad & Rogers, 2013; West, 2012), and control the social
desirability problems associated with self-reports of these
types of behaviors (Follingstad & Rogers, 2013; Frankland
& Brown, 2013; Murray & Mobley, 2009). Finally, given the
lack of studies on these topics beyond the Anglo-Saxon
setting, it is necessary to investigate the existence of this
phenomenon in other societies and cultures.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study
was possible due to the economic support of the VALiþd program for
predoctoral Training of Research Personnel (ACIF/2013/167). Con-
selleria d’Educacio´ , Cultura i Sport, Generalitat Valenciana (Spain).
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Author Biographies
Laura Badenes-Ribera is a PhD student in the University of Valencia
(Spain). She is graduated in psychology, criminology, and laws. She is
a master in psychology and criminology. She gets a grant for predoc-
toral training of research personnel (ACIF/2013/167) from Generalitat
Valenciana, Spain.
Amparo Bonilla-Campos is an associate professor in the University
of Valencia. Valencia (Spain). She is a specialist in domestic violence
and gender studies. She conducts research in the areas of stereotyping,
prejudice, and discrimination.
Dolores Frias-Navarro is an associate professor in the University of
Valencia (Spain) and is specialized in research methods. She conducts
research in the areas of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.
Gemma Pons-Salvador is an associate professor in the University of
Valencia (Spain). She is a specialist in treatment and prevention of
conflicts and family violence. She has worked for more than a decade
as a psychologist of social services.
Hector Monterde-i-Bort is an associate professor in the University
of Valencia (Spain) and a specialist in statistics, measurement, and
computing applied to Psychology. He conducts research in the
areas of stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, safety, mobility and
quality of life.
Badenes-Ribera et al. 297
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... SV, stalking, and intimate partner violence (IPV) are serious public health problems that can have lasting psychological and physical health consequences for victims, regardless of sexual orientation, age, race, or ethnicity. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] However, certain groups are especially affected by these forms of violence. Among U.S. adults, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals bear a disproportionately high burden of violence victimization relative to their heterosexual peers. ...
... Abbreviation: CI = confidence interval. 1 Estimates reflect lifetime prevalence within each respective sexual identity and race/ethnicity subpopulation. 2 Contact sexual violence includes rape, sexual coercion, and/or unwanted sexual contact. 3 The American Indian or Alaska Native designation does not indicate being enrolled or being affiliated with a tribe. ...
... Abbreviation: CI = confidence interval. 1 Estimates reflect lifetime prevalence within each respective sexual identity and race/ethnicity subpopulation. 2 Contact sexual violence includes rape, being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, and/or unwanted sexual contact. 3 The American Indian or Alaska Native designation does not indicate being enrolled or being affiliated with a tribe. ...
... An intersectional approach was used to reach a varied sample of students with and without Title IX reporting experiences to garner a broad array of college student perspectives. We attempted to reach various groups of students on campus that have been shown by research to be differentially impacted by sexual victimization such as individuals in fraternities and sororities, LGBTQIA+ students, and international students (e.g., Badenes-Ribera et al., 2016;Fethi et al., 2023;Minow & Einolf, 2009), as well as graduate students who are an understudied student population in reference to SV (Bloom et al., 2023). ...
Most college students do not report sexual violence (SV) incidents reportable under Title IX to their universities. Several studies focus on Title IX in regard to gender equality in sports or SV survivors’ perceptions of their Title IX experience. However, few studies examine the knowledge and perceptions of Title IX of the general college student body using qualitative methods. This study expands upon this literature by exploring college students’ perspectives on Title IX, including the most recent amendments to Title IX regulations. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with 55 students with different levels of Title IX experience at one university. The results show that, with the exception of students with Title IX experience, most students lack knowledge about Title IX regulations and procedures, but all students had high expectations of the Title IX office. There is also skepticism and confusion surrounding changes to Title IX regulations.
... Although the majority of people who experience IPV are females, IPV occurs to all sexes across the lifespan (Goldin et al., 2016) and is not only a heterosexual concern but also occurs within same-sex intimate relationships (Badenes-Ribera et al., 2016;Messing et al., 2019). Research has identified that females perpetrate more minor acts of physical aggression at a higher prevalence than males (Archer, 2000;Swan et al., 2008) but more females than males (Hunnicutt et al., 2019;Iverson et al., 2019;Wörmann et al., 2021) will experience severe physical violence and far more sexual assault from an intimate partner throughout their lifetime. ...
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To determine intimate partner violence (IPV) incidence reported by a hospital health service and the proportion of patients who received a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or strangulation assessment. This retrospective review utilised IPV, TBI and strangulation screening data from one New Zealand hospital healthcare service between 01/01/2018 and 30/12/2021. Over four years, 660 IPV reports showed an average incidence of 44.2 (95% CI: 37.5 to 52.2) per 100,000 population. New Zealand Māori had the highest incidence 81.8 (95% CI: 70.9 to 94.3) per 100,000 population. Nearly half (n = 328; 49.7%) of IPV survivors reportedly had been “choked” and over a third (n = 252; 38.2%) reportedly “knocked out”. Less than 1% of IPV survivors had a recorded TBI (n = 5; 0.8%) or strangulation (n = 4; 0.6%) assessment. Less than a quarter (24.2%) of IPV reports were completed by doctors and nurses, with social workers completing the most assessments (49.2%). Reported loss of consciousness and strangulations caused by IPV were high in this hospital setting, yet they were rarely assessed. New Zealand Māori had the highest incidence per ethnic population of partner inflicted TBI presenting to the hospital. There is a risk of potential TBIs being missed due to lack of assessment by registered medical and nursing professionals given the majority of reports were provided by allied health workers such as social workers. These data underscore the critical need for healthcare provider education and training in understanding, recognizing, and treating brain injuries in females who present to medical facilities with IPV.
... In relation to the exosystem, the importance of this lies in the identification of the multiple indirect effects of violence that have been traditionally ignored [60]. Some research has suggested the need for education and training programs on same-sex partner violence for service providers who are not prepared to serve LGBT people, such as health, social services, and criminal justice professionals [49,61,62]. This awareness is important for reducing behaviors that perpetuate stereotypes and patterns of discrimination against LGBTQ people [3,63] and, specifically, for relationships between women. ...
Full-text available
Intimate partner violence (IPV) among women is an understudied topic in Hispanic Americans; therefore, we aim to describe this phenomenon and its associated risk factors in comparison with other sexual orientations and practices. A scoping review was carried out using the following databases: Scopus, Web of Science, Redalyc,, and Dialnet. The following keywords were used: same-sex, intragender, couple, domestic, and partner violence. The inclusion criteria applied were studies published between 2000 and 2022 with a minimum participation of 15% of Hispanic Americans, resulting in 23 articles. The findings showed a lower presence of studies on violence in women compared to men. Minority stress, power dynamics, social support, and childhood experiences of violence, which are related and complementary to each other, were identified as risk factors. We concluded that there is little research on IPV among women. In addition, studies require a renewed focus to comprehend this type of violence, which cannot be equated with those of heterosexual couples. This approach continues to perpetuate the invisibility of this problem, and, therefore, a more inclusive and specific perspective is needed.
... While women experience this form of violence to a greater extent than men and with more serious consequences (WHO, 2021), men can also be victims (Hines, 2015;Perryman & Appleton, 2016;Scott-Storey, 2023). Moreover, studies indicate that rates of IPV victimization can be as high or higher among sexual and gender minorities than heterosexual cisgender people (Badenes-Ribera et al., 2016;Gilchrist et al., 2023;Liu et al., 2021;Peitzmeier et al., 2020;Rollè et al., 2018). ...
Full-text available
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a worldwide social and public health problem, with serious consequences not only for the victims’ physical and psychological well-being, but also for their children, and the wider community (Campbell, 2002; Ellsberg et al., 2008; Guedes et al., 2016; Martín-Fernández et al., 2019, 2020; Okuda et al., 2011; World Health Organization [WHO], 2021). While women experience this form of violence to a greater extent than men and with more serious consequences (WHO, 2021), men can also be victims (Hines, 2015; Perryman & Appleton, 2016; Scott-Storey, 2023). Moreover, studies indicate that rates of IPV victimization can be as high or higher among sexual and gender minorities than heterosexual cisgender people (Badenes-Ribera et al., 2016; Gilchrist et al., 2023; Liu et al., 2021; Peitzmeier et al., 2020; Rollè et al., 2018)....
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In recent years more attention has been given to the ways in which mixed-sex and same-sex intimate partner violence (IPV) couples report crimes to the police. Specifically, what patterns of repetition, intermittency between contacts with the police, and harm trajectories over time exist, and are there variations between same-sex and mixed-sex dyads? We explore all eligible IPV reported in Sweden over 1,000 days ( n = 14,939) and use descriptive statistics to examine differences between different victims and offenders. We code IPV offences within three levels of harm recognized by law and develop a tiered approach to harm quantification that supports the growing evidence that not all IPV harm is the same. Based on official records, IPV usually ends following the first contact with the police, as nine out of ten dyads never call again. Variations across cisgender and sexual identity groups exist: Repeat same-sex IPV is not as common as mixed-sex IPV but is reported more quickly to the police after it had occurred once. In the 1,000-day follow-up period, same-sex dyads do not call the police more than four times and the repeated incidents trends seem to be driven primarily by outliers. Moreover, we find an overall pattern of decreasing time intervals between each additional contact, but no overall pattern of escalating severity over time. However, the overall severity trend it driven by female-victim-male-offender dyads: male offenders are more likely to cause escalation of harm, while two out of five male–male repeat IPV experience escalation in harm. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings, which overall illustrate the importance of observing IPV in typological terms, rather than as a continuum.
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Background Suicide attempts and suicide death disproportionately affect sexual and gender minority emerging adults (age 18-24 years). However, suicide prevention strategies tailored for emerging adult sexual and gender minority (EA-SGM) groups are not widely available. The Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) has strong evidence for reducing the risk for suicide in the general population, but it is unclear how best to support EA-SGM groups in their use of a safety plan. Our intervention (Supporting Transitions to Adulthood and Reducing Suicide [STARS]) builds on content from an existing life skills mobile app for adolescent men who have sex with men (iREACH) and seeks to target core risk factors for suicide among EA-SGM groups, namely, positive affect, discrimination, and social disconnection. The mobile app is delivered to participants randomized to STARS alongside 6 peer mentoring sessions to support the use of the safety plan and other life skills from the app to ultimately reduce suicide risk. Objective We will pilot-test the combination of peer mentoring alongside an app-based intervention (STARS) designed to reduce suicidal ideation and behaviors. STARS will include suicide prevention content and will target positive affect, discrimination, and social support. After an in-person SPI with a clinician, STARS users can access content and activities to increase their intention to use SPI and overcome obstacles to its use. EA-SGM groups will be randomized to receive either SPI alone or STARS and will be assessed for 6 months. Methods Guided by the RE-AIM (reach, efficacy, adoption, implementation, and maintenance) framework, we will recruit and enroll a racially and ethnically diverse sample of 60 EA-SGM individuals reporting past-month suicidal ideation. Using a type-1 effectiveness-implementation hybrid design, participants will be randomized to receive SPI (control arm) or to receive SPI alongside STARS (intervention arm). We will follow the participants for 6 months, with evaluations at 2, 4, and 6 months. Preliminary effectiveness outcomes (suicidal ideation and behavior) and hypothesized mechanisms of change (positive affect, coping with discrimination, and social support) will serve as our primary outcomes. Secondary outcomes include key implementation indicators, including participants’ willingness and adoption of SPI and STARS and staff’s experiences with delivering the program. Results Study activities began in September 2021 and are ongoing. The study was approved by the institutional review board of the University of Pennsylvania (protocol number 849500). Study recruitment began on October 14, 2022. Conclusions This project will be among the first tailored, mobile-based interventions for EA-SGM groups at risk for suicide. This project is responsive to the documented gaps for this population: approaches that address chosen family, focus on a life-course perspective, web approaches, and focus on health equity and provision of additional services relevant to sexual and gender minority youth. Trial Registration NCT05018143; International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID) DERR1-10.2196/48177
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Purpose LGBTQ + people who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) and family of origin violence (FOV) are known to face significant barriers to reporting or seeking support for these experiences and may not always feel supported when do so. Method Data from 4,607 participants of a nationwide survey of LGBTQ + adults in Australia who indicated having ever experienced IPV or FOV was analysed. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with reporting the most recent experience of IPV or FOV and with feeling supported when reporting. Results In total, 1,188 (25.9%) participants indicated that they reported their most recent experience of IPV or FOV and 1,112 (84.6%) of those felt supported. Participants’ sexual orientation, level of education, engagement with a regular general practitioner (GP), experience of homelessness and country of birth were associated with reporting their most recent experience of IPV or FOV. Of those who reported their experience, participants were most likely to feel supported if they had a regular GP and least likely to feel supported if they had ever experienced homelessness. Conclusion The findings of this study highlight inadequacies in family violence frameworks in promoting or facilitating access to services that could benefit this population. Encouraging LGBTQ + people to engage with a regular GP, establishing family violence services that cater to the specific needs of LGBTQ + people, and training family violence responders and service providers to recognise diverse relationship dynamics may improve support outcomes for LGBTQ + survivors of family violence.
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This study documented between-group differences in factors associated with sexual revictimization histories in a sample of young sexual minority women. Diverse samples of lesbian (N = 204, ageM = 23.55 years) and bisexual (N = 249, ageM = 23.35 years) women from the United States were recruited using the CloudResearch platform to assess factors associated with recent experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV). Participants were categorized into four groups based on self-reports of sexual victimization (a) during childhood and (b) during adulthood in intimate relationships. Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was used to model between-group differences in three variable domains: Past-year substance use involvement, minority stress, and violence in relationship and community settings. Lesbian women reporting sexual revictimization in adulthood reported significantly higher scores for measures of past-year substance use involvement and negative consequences, daily discrimination experiences, relational victimization, and criminal victimization, compared to their counterparts with no history of sexual victimization. Among bisexual women, sexual revictimization was associated with a similar pattern of between-group differences. The sexual revictimization experiences of sexual minority women appear to occur in the context of multivariate patterns of harmful substance use, minority stress, and violence in both relationship and community settings. Our findings have implications for how intervention services are provided to emerging adult sexual minority women who experience multiple episodes of sexual abuse during their lifespans. Recommendations include specialized training for counseling or intervention service providers, integrated trauma-informed services that address both substance use and sexual assault issues, and affirmative services for sexual minority women.
Compared to what we know about heterosexual couples, violence in queer families and relationships is an underresearched area with little theory development. Prevalence rates fluctuate depending on measurement and time frame but there seems to be agreement that sexual minorities experience greater risk of violence than others, with bisexual and transgendered persons having the highest risk. Correlates, including relationship dynamics, are poorly understood and there are several barriers to research including myths that inhibit recognition of queer family violence as a public health crisis and methodological challenges stemming from dealing with stigmatized and marginalized populations. Directions for future research are considered.KeywordsSame-sex victimizationSame-sex intimate partner violenceQueer family violenceViolenceAggressionIntimate partner violence
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Systematic reviews are secondary studies that summarize the best scientific evidence available by means of explicit and rigorous methods to identify, select, appraise, analyse and summarise the empirical studies that enable responding to specific questions. The aim of this theoretical study is to set out a series of standards and recommendations for the planning, development and reporting of a systematic review in the field of the health sciences. The article describes the systematic reviews in the context of practice based on scientific evidence, their rise, justification, applicability and differences compared to traditional literature reviews. Secondly, the methodology is set out for their development and guidelines are established for their preparation; the stages of the process and preparation of a protocol are described with emphasis on the steps to follow to prepare and report a systematic review. Finally, some additional considerations are set out for their preparation and publication in a scientific journal. This guide is aimed both at authors and reviewers of a systematic review.
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This review seeks to synthesize the current state of knowledge regarding gender differences in rates of physical and psychological intimate partner violence (IPV) prevalence among the four largest racial/ethnic groups in the United States, compares rates of physical and psychological IPV between sexual minorities and heterosexuals and among subgroups of sexual minorities (gay men, lesbians, bisexuals), and summarizes correlates and risk factors that are associated with rates of IPV in both ethnic and sexual minorities. A systematic search of the published literature in the past 40 years using various search engines (e.g., PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science) was conducted. The review identified 55 studies that met criteria. Few gender differences in rates of physical and psychological aggression were found among African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, and Native American men and women. Psychological aggression was most frequently reported. Bidirectional violence, which primarily took the form of minor aggression, was the most frequently reported form of physical violence. When unidirectional aggression was assessed, it was more likely to be female perpetrated, particularly among African Americans. These gender patterns were consistent across general population, student, and community studies. Respondents who reported a history of same-sex cohabitation and those who identified as sexual minorities reported higher rates of IPV than those who reported only a history of opposite-sex cohabitation and those who identified as heterosexual. Regarding sexual minority subgroup differences, bisexuals appeared to be at a greater risk of IPV, and victimization among transgendered individuals has largely been neglected in the literature. Substance abuse and use, marginalized socioeconomic status in the form of family and neighborhood poverty, and exposure to violence during childhood as a witness or victim of violence in the family of origin were consistently linked to elevated rates of IPV. Associations also were found between level of acculturation and minority stress in the form of internalized homophobia and frequency of discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the complex association among these variables was less clear across racial groups and sexual orientation. Research limitations and future research directions are discussed.
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Abstract Domestic violence (DV) is a significant public health issue. Prevalence rates for same-sex DV (SSDV) vary due to methodological issues related to recruitment and definitions of sexual orientation, but are currently considered to be similar to slightly greater than other-sex (OSDV) rates. Research has identified differences between SSDV and OSDV, including internalized and externalized stressors associated with being a sexual minority that interact with DV to create or exacerbate vulnerabilities, higher risk for complex trauma experiences, and difficulties accessing services. This review provides a critical review of the literature, focusing upon empirical findings regarding SSDV.
Despite numerous studies that report the preponderance of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women, other empirical studies suggest that rates of domestic violence by women and men are equivalent. This article explores these claims of gender symmetry in intimate partners' use of violence by reviewing the empirical foundations of the research and critiquing existing sources of data on domestic violence. The author suggests methods to reconcile the disparate data and encourages researchers and practitioners to acknowledge women's use of violence while understanding why it tends to be very different from violence by men toward their female partners.
In 35 years of scholarship, a great deal of valuable information has come to light about same-sex intimate partner violence (SSIPV). The literature reveals many similarities between SSIPV and opposite-sex IPV (OSIPV), including rates of IPV, relative rates of forms of IPV, directionality of physical violence, patterns of control that keep victims silent and trapped, and outcomes for victims. At the same time, theories have been challenged and adapted, and a number of unique aspects of SSIPV have emerged, many revolving around issues pertaining to perceived, experienced, and internalized heterosexism. Considerable gaps have been found to still exist in SSIPV research methodology, prevention and intervention, victim resources, and legal avenues of protection. In reviewing this literature, it is clear that, while much has been gained in knowledge of SSIPV that can and should be put into practice, much important work still needs to be done by scholars, service providers, and policymakers to help make society safer for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and all sexual minorities.
Our study examined how two sexual minority stressors (internalized homophobia and social constraints in talking with others about one’s minority sexual identity) are related to psychological aggression (PA) in lesbian women’s relationships. PA includes a range of methods to hurt, coerce, control, and intimidate intimate partners. Rumination (i.e., brooding about one’s self and life situation) and relationship satisfaction were examined as potential mediating variables. Self-identified lesbian women in a same-sex relationship (N = 220) were recruited from a market research firm’s online panel. Participants completed measures of internalized homophobia, social constraints, rumination, relationship satisfaction, and frequency of past year PA victimization and perpetration. Internalized homophobia and social constraints in talking to friends about sexual identity yielded a positive indirect link with PA via a sequential path through rumination and relationship satisfaction. There was an additional indirect positive association of minority stressors with PA via a unique path through rumination. These results demonstrate the importance of continued efforts toward reducing minority stress, where possible, as well as enhancing coping. Given the importance of rumination and relationship satisfaction in the link between minority stressors and PA, it is imperative to improve adaptive coping responses to sexual minority stressors. Development and validation of individual- and couples-based interventions that address coping with sexual minority stressors using methods that decrease rumination and brooding and increase relationship satisfaction are certainly warranted.
Although research has examined intimate partner violence (IPV) within lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) communities, contradictory evidence exists regarding variations in IPV within this diverse population. Using data from a nationally representative Canadian survey, we examined differences in rates and severity of LGB IPV based on sexual orientation, gender, sociodemographic factors, and previous experiences of discrimination. Individuals who were bisexual, younger, currently single, less educated, and who experienced physical/mental limitations were more likely to experience IPV. Compared to gays and lesbians, bisexuals reported more incidents of violence and higher rates of injury. Implications for research and theory development are provided.
This study contributed to the data about same-sex relationship violence with a large sample (n = 499) of ethnically diverse gay men, lesbians, and bisexual and transgendered people. Physical violence was reported in 9% of current and 32% of past relationships. One percent of participants had experienced forced sex in their current relationship. Nine percent reported this experience in past relationships. Emotional abuse was reported by 83% of the participants. Women reported higher frequencies than men for physical abuse, coercion, shame, threats, and use of children for control. Across types of abuse, ethnic differences emerged regarding physical abuse and coercion. Differences across age groups were found regarding coercion, shame, and use of children as tools. Higher income was correlated with increased threats, stalking, sexual, physical, and financial abuses. Preliminary patterns of same-sex relationship abuses were examined for bisexual and transgendered people.
Abstract This article reports on the findings of the Lesbian Relationships Research Project (LRRP), a 1993 study on the prevalence of emotional and physical abuse in lesbian relationships in the San Francisco Bay Area (Medina & Scherzer, 1993). This article reviews the literature on prevalence of domestic violence in lesbian relationships, describes the LRRP study, reports the findings from (1) the survey component of LRRP, which examined prevalence of specific abusive behaviors and respondents' help-seeking experiences, and (2) the qualitative component of the study, which asked respondents what behaviors they considered abusive, what happened when they sought help, and invited other comments. Lastly, the concepts and themes brought up from the qualitative data are discussed to suggest topics for further research.