Incidence by Sexuality

The quickest way of Discrediting Duluth is to point out that partner violence is most common in lesbian couples. Here is the evidence.

Table 1: Domestic Abuse by Sexual Orientation, 2008/9 (from Home Office Statistical Bulletin, “Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2008/09: Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2008/09  (Third Edition)”, Table 3.07)

Category Male Victims Female Victims
Heterosexual Gay Heterosexual Lesbian
All domestic abuse 4.1% 8.9% 5.9% 17.3%
Non-sexual partner abuse 3.3% 6.2% 4.3% 12.4%
Non-sexual family abuse 1.5% 3.3% 2.2% 8.5%
Sexual assault or attempts 0.3% 4.2% 2.6% 8.7%
Number of respondents 20,892 512 24,795 473

Incidentally, the above Table also shows that 95% of male victims were abused by women, not men (thereby refuting the claim that is sometimes made that male victims are generally abused by other men in a gay relationship). Only 5% of abused men were abused by another man in a gay relationship.

The incidence of partner abuse amongst lesbian couples is twice as great as amongst gay couples, which in turn is nearly twice as frequent as in heterosexual couples. Completely contrary to feminist patriarchal control theory, heterosexual couples (especially if married) are the least likely to experience partner abuse.

Curiously, after publishing this result in 2008/9, the Crime Survey for England and Wales has not subsequently published the breakdown of PV by sexual orientation. Odd that.

In a discussion piece “A radical reVision of domestic abuse” in The Psychotherapist, Sue Parker Hall had this to say about partner violence in same sex couples,

If domestic violence is men’s attempt to dominate women we would not expect to find it in same-sex relationships, and yet research by Henderson (2003) has found that it is just as prevalent: 22 per cent of women and 29 per cent of men with same-sex partners. And in a gay men and lesbians sample (Donovan et al, 2006), 77 per cent had experienced emotional abuse, 40 per cent physical abuse and 40.5 per cent sexual abuse. A much earlier survey (Lie and Gentlewarrier, 1991) found that lesbian relationships were more violent than gay relationships (56 per cent v 25 per cent) and a further survey of 350 lesbians, of whom 78.2 percent had formerly been in relationships with men, reported less violence in their previous relationships with men than in previous relationships with women (ibid). [References given below]

A survey of LGBT people in Sydney also revealed a greater prevalence of partner abuse of women (up to 46%) compared with abuse of men (up to 38.8%). To a good approximation we can interpret the former as abuse within a lesbian relationship and the latter as abuse within a gay relationship. [This is on the basis that over half the respondents identified as lesbian woman (54.5%), 34.1% identified as gay men, and only 7.8% identified as bisexual and 3.2% as heterosexual].

Lie, Schilit, Bush, Montague, & Reyes (1991) reported that lesbian abuse rates were higher than heterosexual male–female abuse rates; for lesbian women who had been in past relationships with both men and women, abuse rates were higher for all forms of abuse in relationships with women: physical, sexual, emotional.

It is not only in intimate relationships that female-on-female violence is frequent. The same is found in women’s prisons, where female-on-female violence may be more than twice as common per capita as that in men’s prisons (see also here).

Non-Linked References

  • Henderson L (2003). Prevalence of domestic violence amongst
    lesbians and gay men. Sigma report. Data report to Flame TV.
  • Donovan C, Hester M, Holmes J and McCarry M (2006). ‘Comparing
    domestic abuse in same sex and heterosexual relationships’. ESRC
    report. Available at:
  • Lie, G., Schilit, R., Bush, J., Montague, M., & Reyes, L. (1991). Lesbians in currently aggressive relationships: How frequently do they report aggressive past relationships? Violence and Victims, 6, 121–135

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