When the Latina advocacy organization Mujeres Latinas en Accion and the LGBTQ support agency Amigas Latinas conducted a study of 300 lesbian Latinas in Chicago, they discovered that not only do these women feel largely discriminated against by the caucasian LGBT and Latino communities, they also spend a lot of time punching and hitting each other.
According to the study:
48 percent said they feel that there is a lot of racism in the Caucasian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered community… 25 percent agreed that they feel discriminated against because of their sexual orientation in places servicing the Hispanic community and 54 percent of women revealed that they feel that most Latinos are not accepting of LBTQ women.
49 percent reported that a female partner had tried to keep them from contact with family and friends. Forty-three percent of Latina LBTQ women reported having been pushed or hit by a partner. And 31 percent stated that a female partner had threatened to kill them.
Women not only stated that they were victims of female-on-female violence, but also admitted that they, too, had perpetuated violence. Forty-five percent said they had punched or hit a female partner and 23 percent had threatened to kill a past or current partner.
Of course, domestic violence occurs in both straight and queer couples, but it’s sometimes hard to get statistics on LGBT couples since the couples won’t always report the incidents, seek help, or identify their sexual orientation when they do. Sometimes police officers will mistake abusive queer couples for roommates and treat them like violent disagreements rather than serious domestic disputes.
But recent statistical evidence shows that domestic violence occurs among 25 to 33 percent of gay and lesbian couples—about the same as in heterosexual relationships. But with same-sex domestic abuse an abusive partner can also threaten to “out” their lover to friends, family, and co-workers and threaten to take their children when state lacks deny dual-parental ownership of children.
The Center for American progress says that at all levels of government need updated domestic violence laws that include same-sex couples and programs that “educate law enforcement and social service providers about LGBT people, establish same-sex domestic violence prevention programs, and support organizations that specifically address same-sex domestic violence.”
But though the study’s co-author Lourdes Torres calls the findings about Latina lesbians “distressing information,” she adds, “there’s no reason to think there’s a pathological link to the community… The purpose of releasing this data was to highlight issues so we know where we need to focus our efforts to meet the needs of the community.”