In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence

  • Introduction
  • Texts
  • Reports
  • Reviews
  • Theory
  • Types and Experiences of IPV
  • Impact of IPV on Physical, Mental, and Behavioral Health
  • Polyvictimization
  • Views and Help-Seeking
  • Perpetration of IPV

Criminology LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence
Nathan Q. Brewer, Kristie A. Thomas
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0230


Intimate partner violence (IPV), defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (including coercive tactics) by a current or former intimate partner,” is a widespread problem with devastating effects on individuals and communities. Both research and practice related to IPV have historically focused on cisgender, heterosexual dyads with female victims and male perpetrators. However, a growing body of literature has begun to explore how IPV functions in the lives of gender and sexual minorities (GSM), also known as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning (LGBTQ) individuals. This annotated bibliography summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding LGBTQ IPV. The target audiences for this work include direct service providers (e.g., clinicians, advocates, lawyers), policymakers (e.g., elected representatives, nonprofit leaders), and researchers in related fields (e.g., criminology, sociology, social work, medicine). This bibliography provides a breadth of resources, spanning governmental and nonprofit reports, journal articles, and published books. Preference is given to peer-reviewed sources and worked published after 2007 (earlier published works are included if they are seminal or address topics not covered by more recent sources). Exclusion criteria include sources with samples outside the United States, doctoral dissertations, and unpublished or unavailable works. Methods for searching for works included using traditional academic search engines for common terms such as “intimate partner violence and transgender.” Additionally, reference lists within each cited work were reviewed. In total, over three hundred published works were reviewed and considered for inclusion. Headers have been provided to aid the reader in navigating the great number of annotated resources. These headers are somewhat artificial, however, and should not be seen as mutually exclusive. In many cases, a source would be appropriate for inclusion under multiple headings. Throughout this bibliography, a number of common abbreviations have been used. The following key is provided for reference. In general, language and abbreviations in the annotations mirror that of the text being annotated. LGBTQ for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and/or Questioning; MSM for Men who have Sex with Men; GSM for Gender And Sexual Minorities; GM for Gender Minorities; SM for Sexual Minorities; IPV for Intimate Partner Violence. The terms domestic violence and intimate partner violence are used interchangeably throughout, as are LGBTQ and GSM.


The thirteen texts chosen for inclusion in this section include books written by single authors and edited volumes. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the first books on this topic were published in an effort to call attention to the absence of research, policy, and practice knowledge regarding intimate partner violence (IPV) for sexual minorities. While dated, these texts provide both historical and philosophical context to research that would follow. Lobel 1986 is the first known text on same-sex IPV, and attends to violence in lesbian relationships. The seminal text Island and Letellier 1991 is one of the earliest writings on IPV for gay men and includes the personal experiences of coauthor Patrick Letellier. Renzetti 1992 then addressed IPV in lesbian relationships through a book summarizing the author’s national study of the topic. Renzetti 1996 is an edited volume of articles regarding lesbian and gay (LG) IPV, which were co-published in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Sciences. Another edited volume, Leventhal and Lundy 1999, provides direct survivor experiences and chapters referencing the more inclusive topic of gender and sexual minority (GSM) IPV, with focus on specific communities. Kaschak 2001 is an edited volume of empirical and theoretical studies focusing specifically on IPV within lesbian relationships. These articles were co-published in the journal Women in Therapy. Ristock 2002 includes results of a study interviewing one hundred lesbian IPV survivors and frontline workers who have experience with this population. Ristock 2011 provides an accessible introduction to the connections between theory, research, practice, and the lived experience of GSM IPV. The most recent text written about GSM IPV is Messinger 2017. This comprehensive examination of practice, research, and policy issues of GSM IPV is a logical entry point for a reader new to this topic and for experienced readers looking for summaries of recent additions to the field. A separate group of texts included in this bibliography is less specific to GSM IPV, but rather, situates the topic within broader fields of study. Scherer and Ball 2011 is a text that applies queer theory multiple topics, including GSM IPV. Sokoloff 2010 is an edited text that examines the experience of IPV at the intersections of identity, such as race, class, gender, and culture. This text provides useful intersectional frameworks that can be applied to GSM IPV and a specific chapter on the experiences of lesbian survivors of color. Finally, Chen, et al. 2010 and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence 2006 situate GSM IPV within a broad anti-violence context and helpfully question the links between interpersonal violence, state violence, and violence by those in the social justice organizations.

  • Chen, C., J. Dulani, and L. L. Piepzna-Samarasinha. 2010. The revolution starts at home: Confronting intimate violence within activist communities. Brooklyn, NY: South End.

    An edited book that contextualizes IPV within a broader field of violence, including state violence. It utilizes this framework and individual narratives to explore how IPV, including for those that identify as LGBTQ, is experienced within social justice organizations.

  • INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. 2006. Color of violence: The Incite! Anthology. Cambridge, MA: South End.

    An edited book that contextualizes IPV within a broader field of violence against oppressed communities. Provides and applies an intersectional analysis of this broad field of violence and points to how past efforts to address domestic violence have unintentional negative consequences for the most marginalized survivors.

  • Island, D., and P. Letellier. 1991. Men who beat the men who love them. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park.

    This seminal book is likely the first to interrogate the idea of IPV in gay men’s lives and the topic within vignettes of personal experience of one of the authors, Patrick Letellier. Topics include: definitions of gay male IPV, questions of prevalence, perpetration, the leave-stay decision process, how to help a friend, therapy and other interventions, and prevention. This book is most beneficial to understand the questions raised at the earliest point in this field of study.

  • Kaschak, E., ed. 2001. Intimate betrayal: Domestic violence in lesbian relationships. New York: Haworth.

    An edited volume of research studies, co-published in the journal Women in Therapy, covering IPV in lesbian relationships. Emphasis is given to the psychological perspective and challenges to traditional theories of IPV rooted in heterosexual dyads.

  • Leventhal, B., and S. E. Lundy. 1999. Same-sex domestic violence: Strategies for change. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781452231914

    This edited book covers a broad range of topics regarding LGBT IPV, including: survivor stories, legal issues, organizing, and service delivery. The text primarily attends to IPV in the lives of sexual minorities (SM), though some attention is paid to gender minorities (GM). Particular attention is paid to important subgroups of survivors including: the Puerto Rican context, those infected/affected by HIV, and those who identify with the sadism/masochism community.

  • Lobel, K., ed. 1986. Naming the violence: Speaking out about lesbian battering. Seattle, WA: Seal.

    This edited book is likely the first to examine the experience of violence in lesbian romantic relationships. The book is a collection of essays written by a diverse group of authors on topics including the role of homophobia in lesbian IPV, service provisions for this population, and community organizing.

  • Messinger, A. M. 2017. LGBTQ intimate partner violence: Lessons for policy, practice, and research. Oakland: Univ. of California Press.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520286054.001.0001

    This book provides a review of 609 articles, books, book chapters, and reports on LGBTQ IPV; it is a great introduction to the topic of LGBTQ IPV. The book is wide in scope, covering nearly all subtopics of this field of study. Attention is paid to research methodology, definitions, theories of etiology, service provisions, policy implications, and suggested future directions. The introduction includes a helpful primer of common terminology.

  • Renzetti, C. M. 1992. Violent betrayal: Partner abuse in lesbian relationships. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781483325767

    This seminal text presents findings from a national study of violence in lesbian relationships (n = 100). It contextualizes the survivor experience as betrayal of partner and then later betrayal by the lesbian community.

  • Renzetti, C. M. 1996. Violence in gay and lesbian domestic partnerships. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park.

    An early edited volume of research studies, co-published in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, covering theoretical perspectives, intersections with race, and service provisions. While dated, provides an entry point into the early field of LGBTQ IPV of the 1990s.

  • Ristock, J. L. 2002. No more secrets: Violence in lesbian relationships. New York: Routledge.

    This book summarizes interviews with over one hundred lesbian IPV survivors, as well as providers who serve this population. Provides analysis and critique of traditional feminist approaches to IPV and provides a more nuanced theoretical framework. This book also emphasizes the heterogeneity of the IPV experience within the lesbian community.

  • Ristock, J. L., ed. 2011. Intimate partner violence in LGBTQ lives. New York: Routledge.

    This edited volume covers theoretical frameworks, the “lived experiences of violence,” and strategic responses to LGBTQ IPV. The text, written by researchers and practitioners, addresses complex intersections of IPV with identity, experience, and practice. Attention is paid to national contexts, gender and sexual identity, and those living with HIV. This work provides a helpful introduction to the connections between theory, research, practice, and lived experience of LGBTQ IPV.

  • Scherer, B., and M. Ball, eds. 2011. Queering paradigms II: Interrogating agendas. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang.

    This book applies queer theory to social and political paradigms. A chapter by Bethany Coston reviews theory of IPV as it relates to LGBTQ survivors and critiques it using queer theory. A chapter by Matthew Ball uses queer theory to analyze the reluctance of gay survivors of IPV to seek help by critiquing IPV theory, feminist criminology, and masculinity.

  • Sokoloff, N. J., ed. 2010. Domestic violence at the margins: Readings on race, class, gender and culture. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

    This edited book explores the role of domestic violence (DV) in the lived experience of those in marginalized communities. The book provides IPV frameworks inclusive of the intersections of multiple oppressions. Michele Bogard’s chapter is a particularly helpful chapter for applying an intersectional analysis to DV. Valli Kalei Kanuha’s chapter unpacks the “triple jeopardy” of lesbian survivors of color.

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