Taboos hide same-sex violence
Experts say domestic violence is just as severe and as prevalent in same-sex relationships as in heterosexual ones, with a third of homosexual partnerships estimated to be abusive.
But a taboo exists around what the gay community calls the “second closet”, resulting in under-reporting of violence and a scarcity of support services.
Auckland’s Jo Butler, who runs one of the few programmes for lesbian victims of domestic violence, says there is an ideological reluctance from many lesbians to acknowledge women can be as abusive as men.
“I think lesbians have to get real about this,” she said.
“Nobody’s talking about it, but until we as a community face up to this, then nothing’s going to happen. It’s really hard for women coming out with this if no-one wants to hear about it.”
Her Auckland-based Breaking the Cycle programme had counselled lesbians who sustained abuse as bad as in any heterosexual relationship, including sexual violence.