Do Gay and Lesbian Victims of Domestic Abuse Get Less Attention from Cops?

Print More

Photo by CJF20 via Flickr

A survey of police officers in 27 states found they take less seriously victims of domestic violence who suffer at the hands of lesbian or gay partners than females abused by heterosexual male partners, according to a recent study by the Journal of Crime and Justice.

The study surveyed 273 police officers who were given different scenarios of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and asked to assess them based on the degree of dangers they perceived, the likelihood of the perpetrators inflicting future harm, and the culpability of victims.

According to study author Brenda Russell, a psychology professor at Pennsylvania State University, the officers surveyed rated male perpetrators of IPV as more “dangerous” to others than any other gender or sexual orientation.

In contrast, male victims of female perpetrators were considered “responsible” in some way for the abuse they suffered.  Victims of lesbian and gay male violence were also considered more culpable and more likely to demonstrate thoughts and  behaviors indicative of mental illness.

Despite the small sample size, the study concluded that its findings, “taken together, suggest police perceptions of potential danger, likelihood of past or future harm to their partner, and victim credibility are influenced by disputants’  gender and sexual orientation.”

“If police officers consider IPV to be more dangerous when initiated by a heterosexual male, it is possible they dismiss the potential danger of heterosexual female or perpetrators in same-sex relationships,” the study added.

Officers in the survey were chosen from the memberships of the National Association of Police Organizations and the Fraternal Order of Police.

This study is available for purchase. Journalists can receive a full copy of the report by contacting Victoria Mckenzie at A summary is available here.

The summary was prepared by TCR intern Davi Hernandez


One thought on “Do Gay and Lesbian Victims of Domestic Abuse Get Less Attention from Cops?

  1. I am a massive believer in equality.
    I want anyone who loves anyone to be able to marry whoever they want.
    Politicians are pathetic and weak cowards. This should have been done years ago!
    BUT! Let’s not hijack the story here.
    1. Domestic violence is down to a 25 year low. The focus groups who make money from it want you to believe its in crisis.
    2. The false accusations in family court and magistrates court are causing more damage to children’s lives in this country than any disease, cultural issue or war in Australia’s history.
    3. Men are suffering more Domestic Violence than anytime since we all walked from the caves. Yet there is no support or refuse centres for abused men and/or their kids in any state in the country that I am aware of. I have looked. I was abused.
    Yesterday I was attempting to gain a VRO due to a death threat from an ex partner. I cannot get a court date for over a week. While there I collected 26 glossy pamphlets. 1 folded photocopied pamphlet. 25 were services for women and the low budget non government financially supported one was for perpetrator men. I’m so glad we can rely on what our government assures us is a gender neutral policy…….
    Please explain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *