Intimate Partner Violence Crosses Gender Lines

At 211, we support our callers, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, and try to lower the barriers face when accessing services.

bc211 runs the provincial VictimLink phone line. VictimLink BC is a toll-free, confidential, multilingual telephone service available across BC and Yukon 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides information and referral services to all victims of crime and immediate crisis support to victims of family and sexual violence, including victims of human trafficking exploited for labour or sexual services.

Upon hearing the term ‘intimate partner violence’, most individuals picture a man being violent towards a female partner. We hear a much broader story.

At VictimLink BC, we receive phone calls on a daily basis from folks who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV). We try our best to support our callers at whatever level they want — whether they are unsure of the abuse, they want a protection order against the partner, they want advocacy to file for charges (or sometimes drop charges already laid), or they’re in immediate need of a safe place. We receive a wide range of calls from folks of all walks of life: Canadian citizens, new immigrants, students and visitors, seniors, youth, and adults of all genders and sexual orientations.

Upon hearing the term ‘intimate partner violence’, most individuals picture a man being violent towards a female partner. However, at VictimLink, we hear a much broader story of intimate partner violence. We receive calls from cisgender men and women (individuals whose gender self-identity corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth), as well as transgender folks in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships experiencing violence by their partners. In fact, according to the 2000 National Violence Against Women Survey “Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence,” over 20% of American men and women in same-sex relationships reported experiencing IPV.

Some survey findings:

  • Among women, 39.2 percent of the same-sex cohabitants in the survey reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a marital/cohabiting partner at some time in their lifetime.
  • 21.7 percent of women living with opposite sex cohabitants reported these incidents.
  • Among men, the comparable figures are 23.1 percent for same-sex and 7.4 percent for opposite-sex cohabitation.

However, when the gender of the perpetrators of these assaults is considered, we see an interesting take on the findings:

  • 30.4 percent of same-sex cohabiting women reported being victimized by a male partner at some time in their lifetime.
  • 11.4 percent of same-sex cohabiting women reported being victimized by a female partner.
  • 10.8 percent of same-sex cohabiting men reported victimization by a female partner at some point in their lifetime.
  • 15.4 percent of same-sex cohabiting men report being victimized by a male partner.
  • 7.7 percent of opposite-sex cohabiting men report victimization by a female partner.

Thus, same-sex cohabiting women were nearly three times more likely to report being victimized by a male partner than by a female partner. Moreover, opposite-sex cohabiting women were nearly twice as likely to report being victimized by a male partner than were same-sex cohabiting women by a female partner (20.3 percent and 11.4 percent).

Same-sex cohabiting women were nearly three times more likely to report being victimized by a male partner than by a female partner.

These findings suggest that intimate partner violence is perpetrated primarily by men, whether against male or female partners.

The victim struggles regardless

Regardless of the partners’ gender identity and sexual orientation, the cycle of abuse, the emotional, psychological and physical impacts and damages of the abuse, as well as concerns of the partner who is being subjected to the abuse tend to gravitate towards the same themes. Self-doubt, self-blame, social isolation, protecting the abusive partner, and being judged or dismissed (by service providers, family, friends, or other concerned individuals) are among the common struggles that folks in abusive relationship experience.

Self-doubt, self-blame, social isolation,and being judged are among the common struggles that folks in abusive relationship face.

LGBTQTT isolation

While there has been increased understanding of violence against women, and some understanding of the concept of victim-blaming and its damaging implications, there still is limited awareness of IPV among the LGBTQTT population, especially the trans community. In fact, until a few years ago, transition houses could turn away trans-women due to their gender identity; to date, there is only one transition house in BC that accommodates trans-men, or anyone who does not identify as a woman. Various forms of discrimination and prejudice, such as sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, can also contribute to further isolation of LGBTQTT folks who experience IPV.

Connecting the vulnerable to community resources

Given the limitations in services and public awareness, we at VictimLink try very hard to foster an inclusive, non-judgmental service that can connect the most vulnerable callers to resources in their own communities. Empathizing with our callers, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, using appropriate language and pronouns, and acknowledging barriers and service gaps, are some of the ways we try to lower access barriers our callers face, and support them in our brief phone encounter.

To reach VictimLink, call at 1-800-563-0808

From anywhere in the Lower Mainland, you can phone or text 2-1-1 for information and referral to victim services. And you can also find victim services on The Red Book Online.


This article was written by Nazanin, an Information and Referral Specialist with bc211.
Nazanin has been a victim service worker with VictimLink for over three years, supporting those who have experienced crimes connect with appropriate resources and services in their own communities. Before coming to VictimLink, Nazanin had extensive experience working with international students, immigrant families, survivors of sexual assault and those who struggle with substance use. She is also a registered clinical counsellor, supporting immigrant and queer folks who struggle with a large variety of issues.

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