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Can mental abuse occur in same-sex relationships?

Even today with all of the increased awareness of same-sexuality, it is stressful being in a same-sex relationship. Everyday people in everyday life are not always as aware and enlightened as they should or could be. Tolerance and acceptance are not always forth coming. The intolerance may be so subtle that it could not be proven in a court of law but can be devastating personally. That's the social context of every same-sex relationship.

Further, same-sex relationships are subject to the same stressors that all relationships suffer; learning to 'fit' together as people, establishing mutual goals as a couple, becoming financially sustainable, etc. That is the relational context.

In addition, same-sex relationships are prone to a few extra stressors. If this is the first same-sex relationship, there is an internal image adjustment to declaring yourself as other than heterosexual. There is a struggle against labels before there is an acceptance of the new reality. There are also no social cues for roles in a same-sex relationship. In many cultures, the man is the leader and the woman is the subservient. Who has the 'power' role when the couple is two women or who is subservient if it is two men?  Is there even a need for those roles?

Bottom line, same-sex relationships, while equally as wonderful as heterosexual relationships, can be equally abusive or worse given the stressors in the relationship. As with heterosexual statistics on domestic abuse, underreporting is a given for couples who feel they must 'fly under the social radar' even at the best of times.

Mental abuse can occur in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Mental abuse is characterized by isolation from family and friends, dismissive and humiliating language, and controlling personal habits and financial assets. An abusive partner may threaten to expose the victim's homosexual status with family, friends, and co-workers or tell the victim that social services and legal authorities will not help a gay, lesbian, or transgendered person. A victim may fear that recognition of abuse will make a same-sex relationship appear deviant. A lesbian victim may fear that authorities will not believe that the female partner can be violent.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.