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Lesbiske, homofile, bifile og transpersoners utsatthet for vold i nære relasjoner

By Eivind Grip Fjær, Tonje Gundersen and Svein Mossige


The overarching questions raised in this literature review are: What characterizes violence in intimate relationships against lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered individuals (LGBT)? What can previous research tell us about the prevalence, the main characteristics, and the consequences of this kind of violence, and what are the needs for help and protection among those exposed? The state of knowledge regarding this kind of violence is limited both in the Norwegian and in the international literature. Moreover, the research designs in most of the conducted studies in this field have grate flaws. In this report we want to contribute to a more solid knowledge base that can be applied in the planning of conclusive and well-designed prevalence studies and in developing measures to help LGBT individuals that have been exposed to violence in intimate relationships. This literature review is divided into four parts. In the introduction we present the main research question, clarify important concepts, go through the procedures applied in the review and methodological challenges in this research field. In the second part we present and discuss some important topics and research findings. We also look into how violence among LGBT individuals is explained and understood. In the third part the help-seeking research is reviewed. What are the internal and external barriers to help-seeking? The fourth part is a presentation and discussion of research needs in relation to intimate partner violence among LGBT individuals in a Norwegian context. Violence covers a wide range of phenomena: Physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, material violence, and financial violence. Violence in intimate relationships has many faces, but we can mainly talk about two patterns of violence: The severe, repetitious and controlling violence on the one side, and on the other episodic violence. It is important to see and to clarify the distinctions between these two patterns when doing research about prevalence, and when developing and implementing preventive measures. This systematic review was implemented in the following way: First we tried out several literature searches to be sure that the applied search terms gave a high number of relevant results. In our search we wanted to find research literature that covered three dimensions: Violence, intimate relationships and sexual minorities. These three dimensions became overarching selection criteria. Trying to compare and relate different studies to each other appears to be difficult in this research field. There are several reasons for this. One is the absence of agreement on how to define theoretical concepts in ways that makes them measurable. For example how "exposed to intimate partner violence" should be measured? Different studies apply different definitions when this term is measured, resulting in inconsistent and incomparable measures of prevalence. Very broad questions opens up for different interpretations among the respondents making it difficult to conduct valid analyses of variables and their possible connections to intimate partner violence within and across studies. Questions opening up for different interpretations are poor instruments for assessments. Unfortunately these conceptual inconsistencies are one of the weaknesses in this research field. Most of the research so far is done in a North-American context. Even if the research in itself is valid one should be careful to generalize the results to a Nordic context. One methodological challenge in research about violence among LGBT individuals is connected to how to recruit respondents. Very few studies on prevalence of intimate partner violence have been based upon representative samples from the general populations. In order to recruit a diverse and large enough random samples of LGBT individuals the complete random sample from the general population has to be extremely large. Thus when recruiting from specific LGBT-societies one always runs the risk of creating a skewed sample. Our literature review indicates that psychological violence is the most frequently reported. However the proportion of respondents reporting about this kind of violence in the different studies range from 22% to 90%, reflecting differences in definitions of violence and of when in the life course the violence has taken place. The same great ranges in prevalence between studies appear in reported experience of physical violence, ranging from 14% to 58%. A recent meta-analysis indicates that the real prevalence is somewhere in the middle of this range – 33% (Katz-Wise & Hyde 2012). Also the proportion of those who report experiences with sexual violence varies greatly between studies, from 3% to 30%. A common finding is that more homosexuals and lesbians report about "exposed to sexual violence ever" at a higher rate than heterosexuals. The dissimilarities between the estimated prevalence in the studies reported make it nearly impossible to give a precise assessment of the number of LGBT individuals who are victims of domestic violence. However, these studies tell us is that LGBT individuals are not particularly shielded from violence in intimate relationships. Some studies have compared the proportion of reported intimate partner violence in heterosexual and among LGBT individuals. The results are inconsistent. Some studies report about differences, other studies do not. So far no studies done in Norway have given a solid base for estimations of prevalence of violence in intimate relations among LGBT individuals. Several studies indicate a relatively high correlation between exposures to different types of violence – one and the same person may be exposed to several kinds of violence. It also seems like many of those who have experienced violence within one relationship report about being exposed to violence in other relationships. In one of the studies reviewed as many as 53% told that they had experienced intimate partner violence in two or more relationships. In some studies one has asked about reciprocity of intimate partner violence. This implies that an individual may be both a victim and an offender of violence in a relationship. The same person may also move from a position as a victim to a position as an offender in the same relation over a period of time. Some of these studies find that the reciprocity of violence is conducted by victims as a kind of self-defense or revenge after being exposed to violence by the partner. Some of the reviewed studies reveal a complex "reality" where violence in intimate relations may change over time concerning who is the offender and who is the victim and what circumstances that starts the violence. Some of the reviewed studies have uncovered important external and internal barriers to help-seeking when LGBT individuals experience intimate partner violence. The external barriers may be lack of available helping institutions or attitudes among professional helpers such as beliefs that women are not violent or that exposure to violence in intimate relations is less traumatizing to men. The internal barriers can be lack of openness about own sexual orientation, an internal loyalty towards the LGBT society by not uncovering violence between LGBT individuals, ideas that helpers are homophobic and unable or unwilling to take the victim and her reports about violence seriously. Being more open about one’s sexual orientation has positive implications for LGBT individuals as it leads to more help-seeking and to receiving support. Those asking for help should receive confirmation from the helpers on their experiences of violence. The aim of the support must be to stop the violence, either by helping and supporting the victim to leave the violent relation or by getting the offender to pledge him- or herself to stop being violent. This review has uncovered many weaknesses in the existing research on violence in intimate relations among LGBT individual. One is the lack of prevalence studies that can give solid data on violence in intimate relations. We need studies based upon wide samples of the general population which are comprehensive enough to include valid data on violence in intimate relations among LGBT individuals making it possible from a statistical and substantial point of view to compare the presence of violence in intimate relations among heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans persons, asking specific questions about what kind of violent actions that took place, who the offender was, when the violence took place, what was the age of offender and victim, and if the victim has been violent in the same or in other relationships. Outcome variables such as mental and physical health, educational achievements and professional carrier should be included. To explore how LGBT individuals experience violence in intimate relations, how they understand the relation to the partner and the possible barriers against telling others about the violence, quantitative research should be supplemented by qualitative methods

Topics: NOVA--Homosexuals and lesbians--Health welfare services--Violence
Publisher: Oslo Metropolitan University - OsloMet: NOVA
Year: 2013
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