Love is many things... But never abuse


Love is many things is a campaign aimed at raising awareness around domestic and sexual abuse. 

We aim to raise awareness that abuse can happen within LGB and T relationships as well as encouraging people to come forward for confidential help and support.


If you are worried you may be in an abusive relationship or situation, you are not alone and there is help out there for you.

Please see our domestic abuse page for details on who can help.
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Here are examples of common myths surrounding LGBT domestic abuse:
There are a number of myths about domestic abuse in LGBT relationships that can prevent people seeking help.
Sometimes an abuser will deliberately use these myths to try and stop the victim reporting their experiences.
In the case of domestic abuse in LGBT relationships, myths are often based on prejudice or stereotypical attitudes towards LGBT relationships.
As a result, they divert attention away from the actions of the abuser.


Myth: Domestic abuse doesn’t happen in LGBT relationships.

Reality: Research suggests that domestic abuse is a significant issue in LGBT relationships.


Some research suggests that around 1 in 4 LGBT people will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives. This is the same as the number of straight women who will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.


Myth: Any abuse in LGBT intimate relationships is mutual so both partners are equally responsible for it.

Reality: Abuse is a systematic pattern of behaviour by one person in a relationship to gain power and control over their partner.

In some circumstances the abuser may physically hurt their partner, and the partner may defend themselves. However, this is not a mutual fight, but self-defence.

Emotional abuse, which is another way to control the abused partner, can often cause more long lasting harm than physical abuse.

It is never acceptable for anyone to live in fear of their partner.

It can be difficult for front line workers to immediately ascertain who the victim is but there are tools to help with this that look at the dynamics of a relationship.


Myth: The law does not protect LGBT people.

Reality: Since 2004 people in LGBT relationships suffering domestic abuse have been equally protected under the law in England giving them the same legal rights as domestic violence victims in heterosexual relationships.

This myth again can be a powerful tool for a perpetrator to persuade the victim they will not be able to access help



Myth: The victim and perpetrator can be identified by their physical appearance.

For example the abuser will be butch and the victim will be more feminine, the perpetrator will be older or bigger and the victim younger or smaller.


Reality: Abuse is not about physical strength and it crosses all boundaries of physical size and appearance.

The power of one person over another does not come from physical strength but from manipulative controlling behaviour and can include emotional abuse.


Myth: Abuse is a ‘normal’ part of LGBT relationships caused by the ‘fact’ that there is something inherently wrong with LGBT relationships.

Reality: It is not true that domestic abuse is a 'normal' part of LGBT relationships.

The idea of abuse as normal however can be used as a powerful tool by a perpetrator, particularly when a victim is younger or less experienced.

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Myth: It is easier for LGBT people to leave an abusive relationship as they have fewer ties eg they do not have children, or where the victim is not the ‘real’ or biological parent.

Reality: For LGBT people there are some specific circumstances that can make it even more difficult for them to leave an abuser.

LGBT people may be isolated from family because of discrimination in relation to their sexual orientation or gender identity and so may not be able to draw on family support, even at the beginning of a relationship.

If it is a first time same sex relationship for one partner there may be a huge amount of emotional investment in it.

Research demonstrates that LGBT people can be reluctant to turn to support services because of fears of homophobia or of being ‘outed’ or of an inappropriate response.

They may be fearful of leaving because the abuser has threatened to ‘out’ them if they do leave.

Research also highlights that because domestic abuse is often seen as something which straight  women experience, some LGBT people may not actually realise that what they are experiencing is domestic abuse.

Many LGBT people have children and children are affected by abuse in the household.

 Not being biological parent does not lessen ties, love or a sense of responsibility.


Case Study 

Tanya's story


Tanya had been with her partner Jenny for seven years when she first disclosed to a work colleague that she was the victim of domestic abuse. The abuse had started three years into the relationship and included both physical and emotional abuse.
Feeling controlled...
Following a particularly bad physical assault in 2008 Tanya fled to refuge accommodation with her son from a previous relationship.
Tanya still felt that she loved Jenny and left the refuge to return to live with her. The mental and emotional abuse not only continued however, it became worse and Tanya felt she was being totally controlled by Jenny.
Jenny constantly checked Tanya’s mobile phone and timed her movements. If Tanya took longer than usual to get to or come home from work she would have to provide an explanation. She was not allowed to go anywhere at all by herself apart from to work.
Feeling isolated...
Jenny was now drinking heavily and would constantly try and start arguments. Tanya also disclosed sexual abuse but would not disclose any detail. She felt increasingly isolated as contact with her family had been cut off, but worried about leaving too as felt that isolation may increase due to her and Jenny sharing many of the same friends.
Tanya began to feel suicidal and did, on several occasions, self harm with a razor blade.
Ultimately Tanya wanted to leave the relationship as she was worried about her son’s welfare and the effects on him but she wanted to do it in a planned way.
Finding support from an IDVA...
The work colleague who Tanya disclosed to encouraged her to phone the local IDVA service. Tanya did this and met the worker several times. These meetings were at her workplace as this felt the safest place to meet. The IDVA provided emotional support and discussed Tanya’s options with her.
Tanya did not want to go into a refuge again; because she was working affording the rent would have been difficult but she did want to move. The IDVA helped Tanya register a housing application and she was given priority due to the domestic abuse. A work colleague helped her move while Jenny was out and she was provided with a community care grant, food vouchers a furniture package and a safe mobile phone.
A sense of relief...
Tanya had been worried about cutting ties with the friends she shared with Jenny but the sense of relief once she was out of the relationship was enormous. Her work colleagues had been incredibly supportive and she was now in a position to strengthen these friendships.
Tanya was also able to have, for the first time in a long time, regular contact with
 her mother.


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