Same-Sex Couples And Domestic Violence

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 5 2011 @ 10:49am

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

I am appalled by the Eagle raid and by the attitude represented by Sgt. Brock, but reading this raised my curiosity about something.  It is obviously false that gay people are more violent in general, but I have read that agencies working to reduce domestic violence consider violence between same-sex couples to be an under-addressed problem.  Of course the main issue is that same-sex couples often have to keep their relationships quiet and have good reason to be hesitant to involve the police.  However, controlling for other variables, I wonder if it could be true that altercations between same-sex couples might actually be more likely to escalate to physical violence, because male-on-male and female-on-female violence does not have the same social stigma that male-on-female violence does.

My impression of society today is that you've got the spouses who would never lay a hand on their partners on one end and the abusive spouses on the other, but very few in between. However, I do wonder if there might be more couples in between when the spouses are the same gender – because of the lack of stigma, or because it's less of a domination scenario and more of a fight between "equals."  I can easily imagine a situation in which a man who would never strike his wife might in fact strike his husband, and having done so, might not immediately stop in shame; in which the struck spouse is more likely to fight back; in which some combination of these factors allows the fight to escalate beyond what would otherwise have happened.  That said, I would also be willing to believe that there are significantly fewer same-sex couples at the far end of the spectrum, with one dominating and abusing the other – overall a flatter curve.