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When you think of an abusive relationship, it’s not unlikely that you envision a heterosexual couple, typically with the man portrayed as the abuser and his female partner the victim.

If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Nationwide, domestic violence tends to be stereotyped as a heterosexual issue, neglecting the fact that same-sex couples experience it at equal or higher rates.

Disproportionate awareness is dangerous to LGBTQ victims

Being trapped in a marriage with an abusive spouse can be a terrifying experience for anyone. In a same-sex marriage, getting help can be even more difficult, since there are fewer resources dedicated to specifically assisting people in same-sex domestic violence situations, thanks in large part to an overall lack of awareness.

When the time comes for a divorce, it’s important that you have a strong legal representative in your corner, since your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is likely to create significant challenges during the process of dissolving your marriage. They may even attempt to smear you in court in an effort to appeal to the judge.

Breaking away from the abuse

First and foremost, you should develop a safe getaway plan if you’re in any danger of physical harm. A trusted friend or team of friends can help you devise an escape, including finding a place to live, even temporarily, and help removing your belongings during a time when it’s safe to do so, such as when your abuser is out of the house.

For victims of emotional and psychological abuse, the threat may be attempts to control or gaslight. This can make it more difficult to take the important steps of reaching out to a divorce lawyer, since you may begin questioning the decision. However, the more you can focus on the life you deserve outside of the abuse, the better, and this is where a good team of supporters can help you as well.

In court, your lawyer will help you defend yourself and make a case that helps protect you and your assets. In a justice system that can sometimes be weighted against the LGBTQ community, finding an attorney who is an ally is extremely important.

Recovering from abuse takes time, but the act of extracting yourself and filing for divorce is empowering and liberating. It takes courage to confront it when society fails to acknowledge it in the first place, but with the right representation and support network, you can begin to move on and build a better life.