LGBTQIA+ Relationships are Important!
LGBTQIA+ relationships- from friends and family to romantic and intimate- can contribute to our happiness and how we enjoy life. However, relationships can be unsafe and cause fear or harm when someone uses unhealthy behaviors, is not treating you with respect or is abusive (physically, emotionally) or controlling.
YOU are deserving of safe and healthy relationships- today and everyday.
Healthy relationships allow you to feel good about yourself and your partner(s). Having a healthy relationship takes effort. It requires all people in the relationship to treat each other with dignity and respect. Some examples of a healthy LGBTQIA+ relationship from loveisrespect.org are:
- Respects your chosen gender pronouns or name.
- Respects your boundaries.
- Gives you space to hang out with friends and family without thinking you’re cheating.
- Trusts you and gives you privacy and space whether in person or online via social media.
- Doesn’t take your money or tell you what to buy.
- Never threatens to out you to people.
- Never tells you you’re not a real lesbian, gay man, trans person or however you identify because you don’t have sex the way they want you to.
A healthy relationship is equitable. Relationships with equity ensure that all parties have equal footing in decision making and all are treated fairly in all interactions. It also means that there are no power differentials (one person gets to make decisions, be “the boss,” in the relationship.
A healthy relationship does not mean that you never disagree. Rather it means that when you do disagree you are able to do so respectfully and safely without it negatively impacting the relationship.
In a healthy relationship, differences are celebrated, and no one is shamed or forced to change.
Not All Relationships are Safe and Healthy
Not all relationships are safe and healthy. Unhealthy relationships can become unsafe and dangerous. This is called intimate partner violence (IPV).
The LGBTQIA+ community may be even more at risk for IPV if they have minimal resources, an unsupportive family, or less social supports. Knowing the warning signs can help save your life or the life of someone you know.
Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
Have you ever felt scared to tell your partner something? Like you’d be “in trouble” if you said or did something they didn’t like? Being afraid of your partners reaction is one warning sign of an unhealthy relationship.
For more warning signs and to test how healthy your relationship is, take this relationship quiz. While the quiz focuses on your partner’s behavior, if you find that you are using any of the behaviors listed, we encourage you to seek help and support so that you can become a healthy partner.
What is Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)? IPV is:
The use of unsafe, harmful, abusive and/or violent behaviors and actions used by one partner against the other in an intimate relationship. Unhealthy and abusive behaviors include but are not limited to:
- physical assaults
- verbal and emotional abuse
- isolation from friends/family
- destruction of property
- violence towards significant people or pets
- sexual assault/abuse
- use of weapons
- and control over resources (including finances).
Violence and abuse can often increase in frequency and intensity overtime.
Check out the LGBTQIA+ power and control wheel for some examples of unsafe, harmful or abusive relationships.
Anyone can use abusive behaviors regardless of gender or sexual orientation. IPV does not discriminate. It frequently occurs in LGBTQIA+ relationships. People who harm often use abuse and violence to control how their partner interacts with the world outside of their relationship. No one should ever be forced to change or have their choices used to justify violence. No matter what happened prior to an abusive incident, violence is never the fault of the person being abused.
How Can I Help A Loved One?
If you or someone you know has experienced intimate partner violence, you are not alone. Here are some ideas on how you can respond and help someone.
Believe Them: People experiencing IPV often believe if they tell someone about the abuse, no one will take them seriously or believe them. As a friend, it is important to tell them that you believe them, validate their experience and remind them that you’re there for support.
Listen: Those experiencing IPV often feel they do not have a safe space to express their feelings. This can be even truer for those in the community. It is critical that people experiencing IPV have a safe, respectful, judgement-free space to disclose. Doing so can validate their experience and feelings, while encouraging supportive healing and resource seeking.
Offer Support and resources: There are a variety of LGBTQIA+ supportive resources for those experiencing IPV; from safe housing to mental and emotional health services, to legal support. Knowing the resources ensures you can be a support to anyone who needs it.
For sexual assault and intimate partner violence:
For general support including suicide:
- Safe Space NOVA: Dedicated to providing a safe, accepting, and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ youth through mentorship and social support groups.
- AGLA (Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance): AGLA is a nonpartisan nonprofit for LGBTQIA+ people & allies striving to improve the quality of life & meet the needs of LGBTQIA+ people through social activities, community service, and civic outreach.
- Arlington TransParent: To learn more about the local Arlington group email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The DC Center for LGBT Community: Educates, empowers, celebrates, and connects LGBT communities through health & wellness, arts & culture, social & peer support, and advocacy & community building.
- Equality Virginia: Provides a list and information on LGBTQ welcoming faith communities.
- Metro DC PFLAG: The Metro DC PFLAG community groups in the DC area meet on a monthly basis and provide warm and welcome support to parents, friends, and allies of the LGBTQ community.
**Thank you to the Safe Space NoVA Y’ALLS (Youth Advocacy and Leadership Learning through Social Support) and the Project PEACE LGBTQIA+ Committee for their expertise in creating this page.