An underestimated problem in the gay and lesbian community is that of domestic violence. A typical assumption of domestic violence is that it is a man hitting a woman. Because of these typical gender assumptions, this problem often goes unnoticed for the gay and lesbian community. It is, however, a serious problem that deserves attention.

If you are someone who is a victim of such physical abuse, the first thing that you need to do is leave the environment where the abuse is taking place. I don’t recommend that the victim in the home and give multiple chances while in the environment, because boundaries are often an issue for this person. This is not to say that the person has to give up on the relationship altogether. However staying is saying that this is a problem for the victim to figure out, which it is not. This is a problem that the abuser needs to work through on his/her own. Staying in the environment is enabling the behavior. Therefore leaving is the first and most important step to take.

It is also important that victims of this type of abuse consider participating in therapy. Working with a therapist can help to define boundaries and identify a future direction. If you do not want to continue your relationship with the person you separated from, therapy can help you from getting into future similar situations. If you do decide to continue this relationship, working with a therapist can help to keep you from giving up your boundaries.

If you are someone who gets physical with your partner, I know that you are scared to think of losing your partner. However, I also know that if you are reading this, you likely want to change this behavior. Having a desire to change is an important first step, but you do not want to be in a situation that you can continue to physically hurt your partner. Therefore, if you are unable to avoid hitting your partner, you need to find another place to stay. This doesn’t mean that your relationship will end, but it will give you time to recover and change your behavior. You can learn about the underlying thoughts and triggers that lead you to feel angry, so that you can handle them before they get out of control. You can also learn about fears that you have, difficulties expressing your feelings, and trust issues that you live with.

Whether you are the victim or the abuser in the relationship, solid boundaries are important. In the beginning, it is important for the individuals in the relationship to learn about their individual problems, and work on interventions that can change these behaviors and feelings. Therefore, couples counseling is not recommended at this point to handle the issue of domestic violence. Couples counseling can be effective, but not at this stage in the recovery. Couples counseling is more helpful after some individual therapy helps clients learn about problem boundaries, thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Domestic abuse is underestimated as a problem in gay and lesbian communities. Although it is not often discussed, this is a serious problem that many couples need to work through. Safety should be the biggest priority, and if the abuser cannot control his/her behavior, then separation is required. This allows both individuals to work through their problems without one getting hurt. It does not mean that reconciling is out of the question. Without changing these patterns, though, prior behaviors will likely continue, and the victim could end up with scars that won’t heal on either person’s end.

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