Domestic Violence Peaks More Than Ever For the LGBTQIA+ Community

Abusive relationships are characterized by consecutive acts of degradation, physical and verbal abuse, intimidation, and excessive control. While abusers will attempt to normalize such behaviors to maintain power in the relationship, these acts are and should always be recognized as domestic violence. What many do not recognize is that aggressive behavioral patterns and violence are even more common in non-heterosexual couples and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Williams Institute of Law:

  • Black and African American members of the LGBTQIA+ community are more likely to experience physical violence.
  • Around 44% of lesbian and 61% of bisexual women have experienced forms of rape and physical violence by an intimate partner as compared to 35% of straight women.
  • 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men have experienced forms of rape and physical violence by an intimate partner compared to 29% of straight men.
  • Lifetime intimate partner violence among the transgender community from purposive studies ranges from 31% to 50%

Behind these statistics are real people with real experiences of abuse. LGBTQIA+ individuals face unique challenges in their journey towards safety and stability. Taylor Brown and Jody L. Herman from the UCLA School of Williams Institute list out just some of the challenges that include:

  • Legal jurisdictions of domestic violence that only refer to heterosexual couples
  • Low levels of confidence in the sensitivity and effectiveness of law enforcement officials and courts
  • Criminalization in the legal system because of gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Increased risk of losing their homes or of experiencing homelessness
  • Difficulty securing quality healthcare and preventative services
  • The risk of “outing” oneself and potentially being rejected or isolated from family or friends

How DCVLP is Assisting LGBTQIA+ Clients

DCVLP offers direct legal and advocacy assistance to LGBTQIA+ victims of gender-based and domestic violence through our immigration practice, including:

  • Asylum applications for individuals who fear persecution in their home country
  • U and T visas for those who were victims of a crime in the U.S. or of trafficking
  • VAWA self-petitions to assist survivors of partner or family member abuse to obtain permanent residency without the abusers’ knowledge
  • Adjustment in Status to assist individuals in the process of applying for long term permanent residency, citizenship, or familial sponsorship

Other Community Partners Assisting LGBTQIA+ Survivors

DCVLP is proud to partner with various organizations in the District that are working to defend the rights and amplify the voices of LGBTQIA+ survivors:

Casa Ruby

Casa Ruby is a multicultural and bilingual safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community that provides food, shelter, and other numerous health-related services. They do so by starting with Preventative Health for the individuals who are at risk of acquiring or have acquired a sexually transmitted infection and providing stable living arrangements and intensive case management and social services. Casa Ruby also provides immigration legal assistance for LGBTQIA+ immigrants and support services for victims of violence. For more information, visit:

The DC Center for the LGBT Community

The DC Center focuses on educating, empowering, celebrating, and connecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. They do so by focusing on advocacy and community building, arts and culture, health and wellness, and social and peer support. For more information, visit:

Whitman-Walker Health

Whitman-Walker’s mission is to offer affirming community-based health and wellness services to all with a special expertise in LGBTQ and HIV care. Through multiple locations throughout DC, Whitman-Walker provides stigma-free care to anyone who walks through their doors. Whitman-Walker strives to be a a healthcare home where clients are treated with dignity, respect and love. For more information, visit:


  1. Brown, Taylor N.T., and Jody L. Herman. “Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Abuse Among LGBT People.” Williams Institute, Nov. 2015,
  2. “Domestic Violence in LGBTQIA Relationships.” Women’s Advocates, 5 July 2019,