Coercive Control in LGBTQI+ Relationships

Find out more below about different types of domestic abuse in LGBTQI+ relationships.

Young people in an LGBTQI+ relationship are more likely to experience domestic abuse in their first relationship than their non-LGBTQI+ peers. This can sometimes be due to age differences or power imbalances because one person has more experience or knowledge. 

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What is coercive control in LGBTQI+ relationships?

Coercive control can be threatening someone, making them scared and/or forcing them to do something they feel uncomfortable with, which is abusive behaviour. This type of abuse can happen in all relationships, young or old people, married or not married, heterosexual or couples who are part of the LGBTQI+ community. 

There are forms of abuse that are specific to members of the LGBTQI+ community, including your partner either threatening to or forcibly outing you and telling other people what your sexuality or gender identity is when you aren’t ready to do so. Some other examples include: 

  • Stopping you from seeing your friends within the LGBTQI+ community
  • Using your sexuality as an excuse to be controlling
  • Telling you that you are not a real lesbian/ gay man / bisexual person if you do not fit stereotypical ideals
  • Controlling how you express your identity, for example, by commenting on your appearance
  • Misgendering (this is when someone uses a word, like a pronoun that the other person doesn’t identify with) or deadnaming (when someone uses a persons birth name rather than the name the person now uses) you. This can happen in a relationship where one of the partners is transgender, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming.
  • Preventing you from expressing your gender identity, this could include withholding hormones, preventing you from accessing a Gender Identity Clinic, controlling what you wear or enforcing gender stereotypes.

Outing someone for their identity when they haven’t yet come out is particularly harmful because coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a personal choice for an individual to make. By forcing someone to come out, or telling someone else their sexuality or gender identity when they didn’t want them to know, they are invading their privacy and potentially putting that person in danger depending on how other people may react to finding out this news. 

If your partner uses coercive control to stop you from seeing anyone, that is abusive. They might stop you from seeing your friends in the LGBTQI+ community which can be isolating. They might use your gender or sexual identity or your friend’s gender or sexual identity as a reason to control who you see. This kind of behaviour can be considered coercive control, which is illegal in Scotland. Find out more about coercive control.

This video from LGBT Youth Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid also explains a bit more about coercive control in LGBTQI+ relationships.

Where can you get help and support?

If confidentiality is a worry for you because you aren’t out yet, you can discuss any issues with support workers who are skilled in working with members of the LGBTQI+ community and those who experience domestic abuse.

The following organisations can help:

Find out where to get more general support too.

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