The reasons for higher rates of violence in lesbian relationships are not clear.
Stories from lesbian women who survived intimate partner violence, however, provide insights into why lesbian relationships often become toxic, violent or emotionally abusive.
It can be difficult for lesbian women to identify their partner’s behavior as abusive, according to a study published in the Journal of Homosexuality. “[People in the LGBT community] work so hard for legitimacy,” Ault said.
“It feels very vulnerable to acknowledge that the relationships we work to have recognized are sometimes toxic.” When lesbian women realize they are in an abusive relationship, disclosing this information to others and seeking help can be challenging.
Lesbian women face unique mental health issues — in addition to the ones all members of the LGBT community face — because they exist in a marginalized section of an already marginalized community.
Exploring the effects of discrimination and prejudice only scratches the surface of their mental health challenges.
The lesbian dating scene has the opposite problem gay men struggle with: there is too much pressure to commit and not enough casual dating.
Lesbians coined the terms “U-Haul Syndrome” and “U-Haul Lesbians” after encountering women who wanted to move in with them around the second or third date.
Domestic abuse is actually more common in lesbian relationships than heterosexual relationships and other groups within the LGBT spectrum — 44% of lesbian women reported intimate partner violence compared to 35% of heterosexual women and 26% of gay men, according to the results of a study by the CDC.
Therapist Amber Ault — who works with lesbian clients, is gay herself and wrote a book about lesbian relationships — wrote about a lesbian woman whose partner violated her privacy during their first few weeks of dating.
Her partner entered her home without permission, found her credit card bills in a drawer and paid all of them.
“Such messages invalidate their sexual orientation and suggest same-sex relationships between women are for the sexual gratification of men,” said therapist Kimber Shelton, who has worked with lesbian clients who have reported microaggressions from men, including the aforementioned assumptions. There are bars, clubs and well-known dating apps such as Grindr.
Their dating culture has the problem of excessive superficiality, but it at least exists. There are gay bars that technically include lesbians, but “gay bar” or “gay club” usually means there will be a majority of gay men.