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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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Article
Intimate Partner Violence in Self-Identified
Lesbians: A Systematic Review of Its
Prevalence and Correlates
Laura Badenes-Ribera
1
, Amparo Bonilla-Campos
2
,
Dolores Frias-Navarro
1
, Gemma Pons-Salvador
3
,
and Hector Monterde-i-Bort
1
Abstract
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.
Keywords
lesbian battering, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, systematic review
Introduction
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
1
Department of Methodology of the Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Psychol-
ogy, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
2
Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatments, Faculty
of Psychology, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
3
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
´n
˜ez, 21. 46010 Valencia, Spain.
Email: laura.badenes@uv.es
TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE
2016, Vol. 17(3) 284-297
ªThe Author(s) 2015
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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
theoppositesexandbypartnersofthesamesex(Murray&
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.
Method
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
hadtohavebeenpublishedbetweenJanuary1990and
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
January2014inthePubmedandPsycInfodatabasesusingthe
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
presented?’’
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
studies.’
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.
Results
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,
2003).
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
(N=1184)
-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.
288 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 17(3)
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Table 1. Description of Primary Studies.
Year Study N
Sampling
Method
Age
(mean) Ethnicity Level of Education Location
Violence
Definition
1990 Schilit, Lie,
and Montagne
104 Mailing list
of a lesbian
organization
34.7 White: 93%,
Hispanic:
2%, Black:
1%, NA: 1%,
other: 3%
Education beyond the
undergraduate level:
41%
Tucson Unique
1991 Lie and
Gentlewarrier
1,099 Convenience
sample of
women’s
music festival
30.6 White: 87%,
Black: 4%,
Hispanic:
3%, other:
5%
Not reported Michigan Unique
1991 Lie, Schilit, Bush,
Montagne, and
Reyes
174 Mailing list of a
lesbian
organization
and snowball
sampling
Mdn ¼34 White: 90.3% Mdn ¼16 years Tucson Unique
1991 Schilit, Lie, Bush,
Montagne, and
Reyes
104 Mailing list of a
lesbian
organization
34.7 White: 93%,
Hispanic:
2%, Black:
1%, NA:1%,
other: 3%
Beyond the undergraduate
level: 41%
Tucson Unique
1997 Waldner-Haugrud,
Vaden, and
Magruder
118 Snowball
sampling
32 White: 100% > Possessing or in the
process of obtaining a
college degree
Iowa M-CTS
1997 Waldner-Haugrud
and Vaden
111 Snowball
sampling
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
Not
reported
Black: 44%,
API: 12%,
NA: 2%,
Latin: 10%,
AA: 10%,
other: 11%
At least some college
education: 97%
San
Francisco
M-CTS
2000 Turell
a
250 Snowball
sampling
38.1 White: 75%,
Latin: 8%,
AA: 9%,
Br:4%, NA:
3%, other:
1%
Not reported Houston Unique
2001 Miller, Greene,
Causby, White,
and Lockhart
284 Convenience
sample of
women’s
music festival
Not
reported
>White Not reported Southeast
United
States
CTS
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
LGBT
Community
Center
40 White: 67%,
AA: 22%,
Latin: 11%
At least a bachelor’s
degree: 28%
New York ABI
2005 Balsam, Rothblum,
and Beauchaine
a
332 Convenience
sample from
advertisements
36.6 EA: 91.7%, AA:
1.1%, AsA:
0.5%,
Latin:2.5%,
NA: 0.6%,
Br: 2.7%,
other: 0.8%
Not reported National
(United
States)
CTS-2
(continued)
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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
Sampling
Method
Age
(mean) Ethnicity Level of Education Location
Violence
Definition
2005 Balsam and
Szymanski
a
210 Convenience
sample of
‘‘pride’’ event
and snowball
sampling
34.75 EA:85%, AA:
6%, L/H: 2%,
AsA: 1%,
NA: 1%, Br:
4%
Some or no high school:
1%, high school
diploma: 3%, some
college: 20%, college
degree: 30%, some
graduate school: 16%,
graduate/professional
school: 30%
National,
(United
States)
3% Canada
M-CTS-2
2008 Eaton et al.
a
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.
a
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
e
Last year
2001 Miller et al. 46.1
a
, 14.1
b
2003 Rose 12.2 8.7 2.2 7.4
Last 5 years
2008 Eaton et al. 43.39
Lifetime
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
d
1997 Waldner-Haugrud et al. 47.5 2.6–37.9 26.7
Not specified
2000 Turell 55, 58
f
14 L, 11G
f
84L
e
, 77G
e,f
2005 Balsam et al. 37.65
c
Note. Blank table cells were not measured or not reported. CTS ¼Conflicts Tactics Scale; IPV ¼intimate partner violence. Physical ¼physical.
a
Physical aggression (CTS).
b
Physical violence (CTS).
c
Physical assault. Sexual ¼sexual,
d
coercion. Psychological ¼psychological,
e
Emotional abuse.
f
Gay women.
290 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 17(3)
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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
relationship).
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
a
,75
b
2–20
b
21–71
b
Last year
2005 Balsam and Szymanski 15.2
c
Lifetime
1991 Lie and Gentlewarrier 3.8, 26.3
d
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.
a
One incident of abuse.
b
More than one incident of abuse.
c
LGB-specific tactics of psychological aggression.
d
Perpetrator and victim.
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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
acombinationofitemsbasedonthestudybyRenzetti(1992)
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.
Discussion
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
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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.
Conclusion
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.
Limitations
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
294 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE 17(3)
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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.
Funding
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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... Despite low statistical power, our study extends previous work demonstrating the importance of sexual identity to understanding distributions of IPV (Badenes-Ribera et al., 2016;Kimmes et al., 2017;Rolle et al., 2018). Prior research has predominantly been based in the United States, with a reliance on convenience or purposive samples. ...
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Debates on how sex, gender, and sexual identity relate to intimate partner violence (IPV) are longstanding. Yet the role that measurement plays in how we understand the distribution of IPV has been understudied. We investigated whether people respond differently to IPV items by sex and sexual identity and the implications this has for understanding differences in IPV burdens. Our sample was 2,412 randomly selected residents of Toronto, Canada, from the Neighborhood Effects on Health and Well-being (NEHW) study. IPV was measured using short forms of the Physical and Nonphysical Partner Abuse Scales (20 items). We evaluated the psychometric properties of this measure by sex and sexual identity. We examined whether experiences of IPV differed by sex and sexual identity (accounting for age and neighborhood clustering) and the impacts of accounting for latent structure and measurement variance. We identified differential item functioning by sex for six items, mostly related to nonphysical IPV (e.g., partner jealousy). Males had higher probabilities of reporting five of the six items compared to females with the same latent IPV scores. Being female and identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual were positively associated with experiencing IPV. However, the association between female sex and IPV was underestimated when response bias was not accounted for and outcomes were dichotomized as "any IPV." Common practices of assuming measurement invariance and dichotomizing IPV can underestimate the association between sex or gender and IPV. Researchers should continue to attend to gender-based and intersectional differences in IPV but test for measurement invariance prior to comparing groups and analyze scale (as opposed to binary) measures to account for chronicity or intensity.
... More specifically, the 67,7% reported to have perpetrated psychological SSIPV, 14,8% physical SSIPV, and 14,2% sexual SSIPV. Our results are in line with the literature on SSIPV perpetration among lesbian women (see Badenes-Ribera et al. (2016) for a meta-analysis), although methodological differences (e.g., definition of IPV, assessment tools, recall period, characteristics of the sample) can make it difficult to compare data between studies (Rollè et al., 2018). Furthermore, our prevalence rate can be underestimated due to socio-cultural reasons. ...
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Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence (SSIPV) among lesbian women has been underestimated until few decades ago. While the association between romantic attachment and SSIPV has been widely demonstrated, mechanisms that mediate this association and the complex relationships between romantic attachment, SSIPV, and SSIPV-specific risk factors have not been adequately investigated to date. The current study assessed the influence of romantic attachment on SSIPV perpetration among lesbian women, exploring the mediating role of internalized homonegativity within this association. Three hundred and twenty-five Italian lesbian women with a mean age of 30 years were recruited and completed the following self-report measures: the Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R), the Measure of Internalized Sexual Stigma, and the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale Short Form. The results showed a positive association between attachment anxiety, and general and psychological SSIPV perpetration. Similarly, attachment avoidance was positively related with general, psychological, and physical SSIPV perpetration. The association between romantic attachment, and general and psychological SSIPV was partially mediated by internalized homonegativity. These findings have theoretical implications and provide valuable information to implement services and interventions tailored for SSIPV, to date scarce and not effective.
... Indeed, a burgeoning area of research is beginning to explore such factors guided by the Minority Stress Framework (Martin-Storey & Fromme, 2021). In addition, more research is needed about the bidirectionality and co-involvement in adolescent abuse perpetration and victimization (Badenes-Ribera et al., 2016). For example, recent work suggests that transgender boys and non-binary youth assigned female at birth are as likely to be perpetrators as victims of interpersonal violence, suggesting the possible role of internalized stigma and disempowerment associated with identity concealment (Whitton et al., 2019a(Whitton et al., , 2019b. ...
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Little is known about the characteristics and context of adolescent relationship abuse victimization across youth of different sexual and gender minority identities. This study sought to examine this in a national sample of 14–15-year-old youth. The sample comprised 3296 youth who reported having been in a relationship, of which 36% (n = 1197) were exclusively cisgender heterosexual; 41% (n = 1, 349) cisgender sexual minority; and 23% (n = 750) gender minority, the majority of whom were also sexual minority. More than half of all youth who had been in a relationship, dated or hooked up with someone had experienced some form of adolescent relationship abuse victimization. Gender minority youth, in particular transgender boys and non-binary youth assigned female at birth, were more likely to be victims of multiple types of adolescent relationship abuse compared to cisgender youth. Perpetrator gender varied for sexual and gender minorities and was more homogenous for cisgender heterosexual youth. Several factors were associated with adolescent relationship abuse for all youth, although alcohol use, and parental trust and communication emerged as particularly important for sexual and gender minority youth. Overall, findings address multiple gaps in the literature and contribute to the understanding of adolescent relationship abuse across different sexual and gender identities.
... Sexual minority stress has been modelled through distal (e.g., perceived and enacted forms from others) and proximal stressors (e.g., directing external forms at the self through internalization) that create a climate of perpetual stigmatization [5]. Deteriorating effects of sexual minority stigma on both physical and mental health have been consistently found across varied sexual minority samples [5,[23][24][25]. While the underlying processes are not yet clear, evaluations of internalized sexual minority stigma among bisexual and lesbian women have shown its significant effects on IPV victimization [4,26,27]. ...
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Sexual minority women (SMW; bisexual, lesbian) experience psychological intimate partner violence (IPV) disproportionately more than physical forms and have higher lifetime victimization rates than heterosexual women. This study presents an examination of perceptions of psychological IPV, sexual minority stigma, and childhood exposure to domestic violence among a sample of 183 SMW residing within the U.S. With an emphasis on group differences between bisexual and lesbian women, findings indicate that bisexual women evaluated vignettes depicting psychological IPV occurring among women in same-gender relationships with more negative sentiment than lesbian women. Significant associations between enacted and internalized forms of stigma and perceptions of psychological IPV also varied among bisexual and lesbian women. No significant relationships were found between perceived stigma and perceptions of IPV in either group. Furthermore, no moderation effects were detected for childhood exposure to domestic violence or sexual orientation in the relationship between sexual minority stigma and perceptions of IPV. Implications and suggestions are discussed with particular attention to the heterogeneity of experiences among SMW as a necessary area of further study.
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Introduction: Intimate partner violence (IPV) among men who have sex with men (MSM) has become a serious and widespread public health issue, which might result in low quality of life and increase the global burden of diseases. Aim: To quantitatively estimate the pooled prevalence of IPV and its specific forms (physical violence, sexual violence and emotional violence) among MSM. Methods: Databases of PubMed, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CNKI, WANFANG Data, and Weipu (CQVIP) Data were searched for identified studies published between January 1990 and August 2020. Random effect meta-analyses were used to synthesize the pooled prevalence and 95% CIs of IPV. Main Outcome Measures: The pooled prevalence of IPV in victimization and in perpetration among MSM. Results: A total of 52 studies with 32,048 participants were included for final analysis. The pooled prevalence of IPV was 33% (6,342 of 19,873; 95%CI, 28−39%) in victimization and 29% (1,491 of 5,983; 95%CI, 17 −40%) in perpetration across all recall periods among MSM population. Furthermore, the pooled prevalence of physical violence was 17% (3,979 of 22,928; 95%CI, 14 −20%) and 12% (942 of 9,236; 95%CI, 10 −15%), of sexual violence was 9% (1,527 of 19,511; 95%CI, 8 −11%) and 4% (324 of 8,044; 95%CI, 3 −5%), of emotional violence was 33% (5,147 of 17,994; 95%CI, 25 −40%) and 41% (1,317 of 3,811; 95%CI, 17 −65%) in victimization and perpetration, respectively. Out of all the IPV identified, emotional violence was estimated at the highest level. Conclusion: This study demonstrated a high prevalence of IPV both in victimization and perpetration among MSM, and emotional violence was estimated at the highest level out of all IPV forms. Efforts are needed to develop corresponding prevention programs for victims with an intent to increase the accessible availability of health services, and ultimately improve their life quality.
Article
Introduction Chemsex is the use of methamphetamine or other substances to enhance sexual experiences, and is most often associated with sexual minority men. Within the chemsex literature, questions of sexual violence emerge due, in part, to ambiguity about what constitutes consent within sexualized environments with co-occurring substance use. Methods To understand the context in which sexual violence occurs, data from an online survey of sexual and gender minority Texans were analyzed using bivariate and logistic regression (N = 1273), and qualitative interviews with substance-using sexual minority men from a separate sample were thematically analyzed (N = 22). Results Among survey participants, 12.8% experienced a form of sexual violence (10.1% experienced intimate partner violence and 7.6% experienced sexual assault). When participants were categorized based on past year substance use and sex party attendance, 48.0% of participants who used drugs and attended sex parties (a proxy for chemsex) experienced sexual violence (41.6% experienced intimate partner violence and 41.0% experienced sexual assault). When variables statistically significant at the bivariate-level were entered into logistic regression models, participants in the chemsex category were 12.5 [95% CI: 6.9, 22.8] times more likely to experience sexual violence. Substance-using sexual minority men experiencing sexual violence describe situations in which consent is difficult to revoke and sexual exploitation is likely to occur. Discussion Studies which more deeply explore the relationship between sexual and relationship violence and chemsex among sexual and gender minorities are needed. Particularly, the notion of consent needs further conceptualization in the context of drug use and sex parties. Highlights • Measures of recent substance use and sex party attendance were combined to create a proxy measure for chemsex, which is the use of substances to enhance sexual experiences. • Substance-using sexual and gender minorities engaging in chemsex were at increased risk of sexual violence. • In addition to engaging in chemsex, variables associated with an increased odds of sexual violence among sexual and gender minorities were younger age, having a non-monosexual sexual identity, and receiving a mental health diagnoses. • Studies on sexual and gender minorities engaging in chemsex should be developed to further explore sexual exploitation.
Thesis
Full-text available
The topic of intimate partner violence (IPV) in lesbian and queer relationships continues to be under-researched in Sweden. This lack of knowledge and recognition can have severe consequences for the help-seeking of those who are not recognized as victims of IPV. This thesis aims to fill this knowledge gap by examining the help-seeking processes of lesbian and queer victim-survivors of IPV in Sweden. By drawing on qualitative interviews with 25 people who have experienced violence in intimate lesbian and/or queer relationships, the thesis examines how the interviewees made sense of the experiences of IPV, where they sought help and how they perceived the support they received. These findings contribute to our understanding of the challenges that recognition of IPV in queer and lesbian relationships entails. Many of the interviewees struggled to identify themselves as victims of IPV, as their experiences did not fit with the public stories of violence, which frame IPV as a heterosexual phenomenon and tend to emphasize physical violence. To understand the struggle for recognition, the thesis draws on the theoretical concept of slow violence from environmental studies, which calls attention to invisible and processual forms of violence that manifest over time. The help-seeking patterns of the interviewees were characterized by subtle, iterative and aborted attempts to gain support and included different informal and formal actors. The findings suggest that the help-seeking processes of victim-survivors often mirror the violence experienced, meaning that they are repeated and processual. Many interviewees initially sought support for other reasons than IPV. This indirect help-seeking suggests that help-providers need to be able to recognize potential victims. Failed help-seeking encounters caused by institutionalized heteronormative values were often characterized by inadvertent misrecognition. This included ignoring or minimizing signs of abuse, leading to failed or lack of interventions. To understand the specific conditions for help-seeking in the Swedish context, ideals around progress, family-making and community support are discussed. This includes specifically the social and legal vulnerability which shape both violence and help-seeking in lesbian and queer families. Finally, the ideal of the singular LGBTQ community as a ready resource for support is challenged.
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