Sat, Sep 22, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Abuse among same-sex couples often unreported

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Domestic abuse among same-sex couples happens as frequently as abuse among heterosexual couples. However, many victims of abuse choose not to seek help because they are worried that they might become a target of discrimination, the Modern Women’s Foundation said yesterday.

“According to the results of an online survey conducted among gay couples last month, as many as 35 percent of the respondents said they’ve been abused by their partners, which is more or less the same as the percentage among heterosexual couples,” foundation executive director Yao Shu-wen (姚淑文) said.

“However, in the past two years, we’ve received over 20,000 reports on domestic violence, but only about 30 of the cases involve same-sex couples,” Yao said.

She said that, according to studies, as many as 10 percent of the population are homosexual, “but the number of abuse cases reported by same-sex couples are too far below the ratio.”

Collaborating with the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association — a group dedicated to providing consulting services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities — the foundation has collected 493 valid samples from the nation’s LGBT communities in a month-long online survey on domestic abuse.

The survey shows that as many as 58 percent of the respondents are unaware that same-sex couples are also protected under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (家庭暴力防治法), which entitles them to legal protection, such as applying for a protection order from the court.

Survey results show that as many as 45 percent of domestic violence victims in a same-sex relationship would seek help. However, 42 percent of those who would seek help would find help from unofficial resources, and only 11 percent said they would try to find help from official support systems, such as government-run social institutions, police or medical institutions.

Asked why most of the respondents would not seek help from official support systems, 73 percent said they do not think official support systems would be helpful, 62 percent said they are worried that official support systems may not be friendly to LGBT groups, while 47 percent said they are worried that official support systems may expose their LGBT identity.

“Last year alone, 45 percent of the 1,259 people who called us needed help with relationship problems, so it’s obvious that same-sex couples have problems in their relationships, but they don’t want to seek help from the official support systems,” Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association policy advocacy director Lu Hsin-chieh (呂欣潔) said.

According to Lu, when gays and lesbians call the official consultation service, they would get suggestions such as “if it’s so difficult to maintain a same-sex relationship, why don’t you try to date someone of the opposite sex?” or get questions such as “did you become a lesbian because you had been hurt very badly by a boyfriend?”

“These ‘concerns’ would not help to solve issues between same-sex partners,” she said. “Better-trained workers in support systems and more diverse education on relationship are urgently needed.”

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