Power and Control Tactics Used in LGBTQI+ Relationships

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

  • Blaming the abuse on the survivor’s identity or behavior (their gender identity, sexual orientation, non-monogamy, wish to practice or not practice S&M, etc.)
  • Refusing to let partner associate with friends and family and LGBTQI+ community
  • Telling mutual friends that partner is abusive
  • Getting mutual friends to side with the abuser (or to refuse to take sides)
  • Exploiting rural issues: lack of vehicle, physical isolation, lack of places for LGBTQI+ people to meet
  • Exploiting partner’s low self-esteem related to their sexual orientation or others’ responses to it
  • Putting partner down for refusing to play roles
  • Ridiculing, discounting, or refusing to believe partner’s sexual identity; defining it as a ‘problem’ or publicly humiliating partner for it
  • Demeaning partner by contrasting their ability to pass in heterosexual society with partner’s being ‘really’ lesbian or gay
  • Putting down partner’s developing body

Threats and Intimidation

  • Threats of suicide particularly potent given the already higher rate of suicide in LGBTQI+ communities
  • Scary behavior (e.g. dangerous driving)
  • Stalking
  • Threatening to “out” partner to family and friends

Entitlement and Heterosexism/Transphobia

  • Demanding personal service (rather than sharing chores)
  • Exploiting partner’s internalized heterosexism and transphobia
  • Telling partner they are ‘sick’
  • Attributing partner’s fear of violence to their internalized heterosexism or transphobia
  • Demanding the partner change their dress, hair, behavior, or who they associate with
  • Anti-LGBTQI+ remarks
  • Blaming own violence on past or present oppression as an LGBTQI+ person
  • Exploiting partner’s lack of relationship experience or uncertainty about their identity

Using Children

  • Threatening to out partner to their ex-spouse, or other family members who might attempt to gain custody because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Threatening to reveal (or fabricate) partner’s sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV+ status, mental illness, or substance abuse to courts or Child Protection Services
  • Threatening to “out” partner at school where children attend

Economic Abuse

  • Controlling financial information
  • Making partner hand over paychecks, justify expenditures, or commit welfare fraud
  • Refusing to meet children’s needs
  • Not letting partner work or go to school
  • Harassing partner at work. Carries the threat of outing them
  • Threatening to out partner to employer. Survivors may quit their jobs rather than risk having their partners out them at work
  • Identity theft: posing as partner in order to wipe out their bank account
  • Denying them domestic partner benefits that they are entitled to

Sexual Abuse

  • Treating partner as sexual object
  • Criticizing performance or desirability
  • Withholding sex
  • Refusing to use protection; assaulting partner requesting it
  • Forcing partner to have sex with others
  • Rape

The above tactics are used in conjunction with other tactics of abuse. See types of abuse for additional examples.