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Exploring Implications of the Impact of Mental Health Issues on Those Experiencing Domestic Violence in Same Sex and/or Trans Relationships, Catherine Donovan
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Exploring Implications of the Impact of Mental Health Issues on Those Experiencing Domestic Violence in Same Sex and/or Trans Relationships, Catherine Donovan



Exploring Implications of the Impact of Mental Health Issues on Those Experiencing Domestic Violence in Same Sex and/or Trans Relationships, Catherine Donovan - a presentation at the A Difficult ...

Exploring Implications of the Impact of Mental Health Issues on Those Experiencing Domestic Violence in Same Sex and/or Trans Relationships, Catherine Donovan - a presentation at the A Difficult Alliance? Making Connections between Mental Health and Domestic Violence Research and Practice Agendas on 7 June 2011



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Exploring Implications of the Impact of Mental Health Issues on Those Experiencing Domestic Violence in Same Sex and/or Trans Relationships, Catherine Donovan Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Exploring Implications of the Impact of Mental HealthIssues on Those Experiencing Domestic Violence inSame Sex and/or Trans Relationships. Catherine Donovan University of Sunderland
  • 2. Overview of paper Introduction/ context setting Domestic violence in same sex and trans relationships – similarities and differences with heterosexual women‟s experiences Help-seeking Bridging the gap of trust
  • 3. Introduction/context• In common with other minority groups – Black people, women, disabled people, LGBT lives have traditionally been dismissed as: – Unnatural – deviant, genetically weaker, enfeebled, less than – Pathologised – deviant, mentally deranged/ unstable – Dangerous – deviant, criminal, a threat
  • 4. Taking Care• LGBT people wary of seeking help yet• LGBT people at highest risks for key indicators of mental health problems: – Suicide – Alcohol / drugs – Depression, anxieties etc (e.g. Hunt and Fish, 2008; King and McKeown, 2003; Whittle and Al Alami, 2007)
  • 5. Comparing love and violence in same sex and heterosexual relationships• Assumptions: – Consensual relationships – Based on feelings of love, desire, positive – Similar aspirations about love across gender and sexuality – Focus on understandings of love and expectations about relationships in interviews With Prof M Hester, J. Holmes and Dr M. McCarry
  • 6. Our study1. A UK-wide survey of „what happens when things go wrong‟ in same sex relationships (800 responses, 746 usable questionnaires).2.Five focus groups with lesbians, gay men and heterosexual women and men of different ages and ethnicities (21 individuals).3.Semi-structured interviews with 67 individuals (41 lesbian/gay/queer, 3 bisexual, and 23 heterosexual)
  • 7. Key Findings• From the survey: – 38% had experienced domestic abuse at some time in a same sex relationship. – This included 40% of the female and 35% of the males – 78% said they had ever experienced emotional abuse – 40% said they had ever experienced physical and sexual abuse
  • 8. Emotional abuse – ‘top ten’ Isolated from friends regularly insulted/put down frightened by things your partner says/does told what to do/who to see isolated from relatives made to do most housework your spending controlled (men) your age used against you malicious/pestering phone calls your education used against you
  • 9. Physical abuse – ‘top ten’ slapped/pushed/shoved physically threatened (men) kicked/punched restrained/held down/tied up stalked/followed by partner beaten up choked/strangled/suffocated locked out of house/room by partner hit with an object/weapon bitten
  • 10. Sexual abuse – ‘top seven’ had sex for sake of peace touched in way that caused fear/alarm/distress forced into sexual activity (men) hurt during sex safe words/boundaries disrespected (men) sexually assaulted/abused refused your request for safer sex (men)
  • 11. Similarities between women and men First same sex relationships risk for domestic abuse Sexuality as tool of control: threatening to out a partner, denigrating the scene; abusive partner not wanting to be outSimilarities with heterosexual women Post separation abuse Abusive partner controlling activities/relationships of victim/survivors Abusive partner undermining victim/survivor sense of self
  • 12. Gender differences in same sex relationships Women typically experience emotional abuse and emotionally coercive sexual abuse Men typically experience physical abuse and physically coercive sexual abuse Women typically live with abusive partner and experience longer abusive relationship Men typically did not live with abusive partner and more likely to experience shorter abusive relationship
  • 13. Domestic abuse in Trans relationships• 80% of respondents stated that they had experienced emotionally, sexually or physically abusive behaviour from a partner or ex-partner.• However, only 60% of respondents recognised the behaviour as domestic abuse.• The type of abuse most frequently experienced by the respondents was transphobic emotional abuse, with 73% of the respondents experiencing at least one type of transphobic emotionally abusive behaviour from a partner or ex-partner.• 10% of respondents stated that someone had forced, or tried to force them to engage in sexual activity for money.Out of Sight Out of Mind (2010) LGBT Domestic Abuse Project in partnership with the Scottish Transgender Alliance
  • 14. Domestic Violence in same sex /transrelationships Most do not recognise their experience of domestic violence Public story of domestic violence is:  Heteronormative  Gendered  Physical violence (Donovan and Hester, 2010)
  • 15. Help SeekingMost did not report their experiences: Because they did not see it as domestic abuse Because they did not think they would receive a sympathetic response
  • 16. National Domestic Abuse Strategy Focuses on identifying those victim/survivors at highest risk who are: Referred to the MARACs Provided support by IDVAs
  • 17. LGBT DA Referrals to the MARACNationally: Between July 2009-June 2010 less than 1% (0.63%) of those referred to MARACs were identified as being LGBT victim/survivors CAADA [online], Available at http://www.caada.org.uk/index.html
  • 18. Barriers to referrals of LGBT v/si. Appropriate use of the CAADA risk indicator checklist,ii. how referrals are made to the MARAC,iii. who makes referrals to the MARAC andiv. who sits on the MARAC.At each stage LGBT victim/survivors may drop out of the process.Donovan 2010; Donovan and Rowlands, 2010
  • 19. Help-seeking One in five did not seek help from anyone Most used „informal‟ or „private‟ means rather than voluntary or statutory sector services More than half contacted friends – women about a third used counsellors or therapists GPs or colleagues also used – men About one in ten contacted the police – more men. Compare with heterosexual women
  • 20. Looking after ourselves• Gap of trust between LGBT communities and mainstream agencies, particularly the police (Donovan and Hester, 2011)• Garland (1996) explains recent developments in CJS: • Criminology of the other – state‟s promise to protect public from the worst offenders/ behaviours - and punish them (no longer rehabilitate them) – Criminology of self– for the rest the public is expected to take responsibility for ourselves – private insurance/ security/ safety strategies
  • 21. However Women and LGBT people have always had to look after ourselves (Moran et al, 2003) LGBT have been criminalised/ problematised by CJS LGBT people have been pathologised by the mainstream
  • 22. LGBT responses Individualised Private Beneath the parapet Not helped by LGBT communities‟ resistance to accepting „our‟ relationships can be „as bad as‟ heterosexual relationships
  • 23. Raises questions about privatised mental healthprovision: counselling/ therapy How is sexuality understood in these paradigms? How is domestic violence understood in these paradigms What responses do LGBT people get to their experiences
  • 24. Bob: Following the advice of my therapist I just ignored everything. I didn‟t get inthe game. He says, “Don‟t even, just don‟t even cut him off when he phones. If yousee his number, ... So if you see it‟s this number, do nothing.You know, put it onsilent. Don‟t cut off. Don‟t even cut him off, because that‟s an act of engagementwith him. Just don‟t engage in anyway whatsoever.” And it went on for eight months.And eventually ... I just went upstairs and I phoned him and said, “Look. Do notphone me. Do not call me ... I want nothing to do with [you]. ... My therapistwasn‟t happy about it. But it worked.Int. ... Did you think about reporting that to the Police?Bob: I thought about the telephone company and they said there was nothing theycould do. ... went to a solicitor to get a Restraining Order. I mean one e-mail he sentme, he said, “I‟ve got a job in Edinburgh. I‟m coming up. And I‟m going to move inwith you,” and stuff like that. So I went to a solicitor to get an injunction against himto keep him away from me, but ... my therapist talked me out of it. He said, “It‟swhat he wants.” He says “He‟s engaging you, it‟s, it‟s getting you into the game.” Hesaid, “I wouldn‟t do it if I were you. Because he will ignore it anyway.” He said ...“OK then the Police can lift him but again you‟re just back in the game.”
  • 25. Lynn: So [her sister‟s] gone from being this strong, vibrant person to being quite scared of a lot ofthings, which, looking at it, is possibly how I was to some extent in my first relationship. Whichwould possibly explain a lot of my friends doing the whole, „She was a bitch,‟ type thing, cos I was abright and sparky barmaid, say „hello‟ to everybody and be always excited to go on to this opportunityor that, ... and the whole thing I described about afterwards, having to take so much courage to beable to go to an event because I didn‟t know if anybody‟d like me. I probably was substantiallysquashed by that and that probably was a certain amount of manipulation and some form of abuse toan extent, so. ...First one, probably again, I possibly couldn‟t talk to my friends so much because I felt ... they‟d judgeme and say, „well, we told you so. She‟s got problems and issues, get out,‟ ... I felt - although I didhave one best friend from that group ... but she still did do a little, „I told you so,‟ kind of thingunderneath, here and there. I don‟t think in either relationship, I ever sort of found myself thinking,„I haven‟t got anybody to support me through the bad times or through the discussions that I need tohave or whatever.‟ Although having said that, I definitely had counselling after the relationship and that was away for me to find support through my Mum‟s stuff and first girlfriend stuff... Because ... I don‟t suppose atthat time, I could possibly have found a person in my friends or family that was able to give me thesupport that I needed ... because I needed a lot of support at that time.
  • 26. Conclusions and Questions Caution about how we talk about mental health consequences of domestic violence on LGBT people Research suggests LGBT v/s rely on private/informal sources of help, including counselling/therapy Part of the problem is:  the public story about domestic violence which hinders recognition  Gap of trust which prevents seeking help from mainstream and/or specialist domestic violence services
  • 27. Broader questions• How to turn domestic violence in same sex and trans relationships from private troubles into public concerns – Promoting recognition of domestic violence in LGBT relationships – Promoting appropriate responses from mainstream and specialist domestic violence agencies – Understanding the differences and similarities with the experiences of heterosexual women
  • 28. Contact details:Catherine.donovan@sunderland.ac.uk0191 515 3218