Homophobia fears can keep violence victims silent

COMING out of the closet is hard to do.

Gay men and lesbians want to do this on their own terms.

But when a relationship turns controlling and violent, many men and women are forced to reveal their sexuality in the hardest of ways.

According to the New South Wales Domestic Violence Line, about 60 calls a year are from lesbians trying to escape abusive relationships.

The AIDS Council of NSW's counselling service revealed in one year 11% of calls for help were related to domestic violence.

Support services for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people are available across NSW and Queensland.

In Queensland, help is available from the LGBTI Legal Service, the Open Doors Youth Service, DVConnect's Womensline and Mensline, the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities and the National LGBTI Health Alliance.

In NSW, ACON, Domestic Violence Line and the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW provide support for members of the gay community.

University of the Sunshine Coast social work associate professor Christine Morley said fears about homophobia often meant people in abusive same-sex relationships would not leave.

"Domestic violence exists in same-sex relationships as it does in heterosexual relationships but we know less about it because it's much more complex for people to come forward and ask for help," she said.

"Not only do they have to disclose that they've been victimised in a relationship, they also have to disclose the nature of that relationship.

"And they risk being subjected to heterosexist assumptions or homophobia.

"We've got a long way to go in being more responsive to same sex relationships that experience domestic violence."

- APN NEWSDESK



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