By Hugo Greenhalgh
LONDON, Sept 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - British LGBT victims of domestic abuse are almost twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual counterparts, a major survey published on Tuesday revealed.
Gay and transgender people attacked by their partners are also twice as likely to self-harm or have been abused by a family member in the past, domestic abuse charity SafeLives found in its first LGBT-focused in-depth survey.
Domestic abuse, which can encompass controlling and coercive behaviour as well as threats of physical violence, is not just a problem for heterosexual couples, Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of SafeLives, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"The image that most likely comes to mind is of a big bloke towering over a woman with her hand to her face," she said. "But these images are not necessarily very helpful – domestic abuse can happen to anybody and be perpetrated by anybody."
Although Britain is one of a handful of countries where LGBT people have equal constitutional rights, discrimination remains rife. Victims of domestic abuse can often feel isolated due to a lack of support from authorities and families, the charity said.
Suzie – not her real name – told the SafeLives researchers that her partner used the fact that she had yet to transition to becoming a woman against her.
"Life is spent feeling as if you're walking on egg shells," she was quoted as saying in the report.
"(My partner's) moody, and irritable and it's easier to have sex than to tell her you don't want it because you'll be ridiculed and accused of being queer ... She constantly tells you to man the fuck up, and stop being such a submissive Sally."
Others reported not being taken seriously when they attempted to report an incident to the police.
"(I) was on the telephone and I got laughed at," Berkeley Wilde was quoted as saying in the report.
"I think that was about the police officer at the time ... not recognising perhaps that (domestic violence) happens in same-sex relationships particularly amongst two men."
The British LGBT rights group Stonewall reported this year that one in 10 LGBT people had faced domestic abuse from a partner over the past 12 months, with rates as high as one in four among transgender respondents.
"With LGBT people being at such high risk of domestic violence, there needs to be better support for services to meet demand, including specialist providers that have experience with LGBT issues," said Laura Russell, head of policy at Stonewall.
"Lesbian, gay, bi and trans survivors of abuse need support and protection." (Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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