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article imageStudy: Intimate violence greater for gays, lesbians than heteros

By Carol Forsloff     Apr 29, 2010 in Lifestyle
Incidences of intimate partner violence show a high percentage of lesbians, gays and bisexuals at risk according to a recent UCLA study.
The research finds a total of 4 million adults in California report being the victim of either physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner, including spouses, companions or casual friends.
The study's results with respect to gays and lesbians are particularly important because they categorizes abuse in the same way for this group as for others. According to An Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection (AAARDVARC) it has been difficult to get information about gays and lesbians for several reasons.
AAARDVARC explains why it has previously been difficult to get the rates of intimate partner violence from gay and lesbian groups as this: " Whether it's because the officer taking the report didn't know, didn't care or didn't want to "call it that", or because the parties involved were reluctant to expose the nature of the relationship, most domestic violence incidents between gays and lesbians end up classified as "assault" or "battery" - seriously skewing the true statistics and making it almost impossible to use the common statistical reports for guidance or insight into the issue."
More than 25% of the total numbers in all categories reporting violence were forced to have sex with the partner. 27.9% of all gay and lesbian adults report intimate partner violence in contrast with heterosexual adults where the percentage is 16.7%
Lead author of the study, Elaine Zahnd, a sociologist and senior research scientist at the Public Health Institute that is in partnership with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in studies of this kind, said in her discussion of the study's results,
"This is not a group commonly associated with violence. These findings should cause us to reconsider our assumptions about the root causes of violence, even as we redouble our efforts to eradicate it."
Researchers also say their findings support the need for health care providers to routinely screen men and women for signs of abuse. This would include observing substance abuse which is found to be higher than average among those who have been victims of violence.
Only 56.5 percent of victims report talking with a third party about the abuse. This adds to the significance of the problem, according to study co-author David grant, director of UCLA's California Health Interview Study. He said, "This is often an invisible health crisis," said study co-author David Grant, director of UCLA's California Health Interview Survey.
The study used data obtained from the California Health Interview Survey which is the nation's largest data base for intimate partner violence and one of the few to extensively report health information concerning lesbians, gays and bisexuals.
The research also found divorced or widowed Californians were the most at risk and showed the highest percentage of intimate partner violence at 41.0 percent, which was twice the rate for those living with a partner and three times greater than married or single adults.
The study also points out the gender disparity the results, noting women twice as likely to be victims of adult violence as men and eight times more likely than men after age 18.
Although Latinos report the lowest rate of intimate partner violence at only 13.7% of the American born and 10.5 percent of foreign born, the problem is increasing. 28.3 percent of those who have reported incidences of violence observe these have occurred in the past 12 months, a rate second highest after African Americans at 30.6 percent.
The study found Asians to have the lowest rates of reported intimate partner violence
Researchers observe, given California's consideration of reducing domestic violence programs for lack of funds, how important it is to maintain them, and use the information found in research to target vulnerable groups with proper intervention.
More about Intimate partner violence, Domestic violence problems, Spousal abuse
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