Domestic violence cases can come with stigmas and stereotypes of what an abuser looks like. In a straight relationship, women are often viewed as more sympathetic or victims – even if they are actually the abuser. These stereotypes are even more harmful when LGBTQ victims come forward and ask for protection.
That’s right. We know well that domestic violence happens in same-sex relationships, too, and at higher rates than many people might expect. How high?
- 43.8% of lesbian women have experienced physical domestic violence (“rape, physical violence, and/or stalking”) by an intimate partner
- 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced domestic violence
- 26% of gay men have experienced domestic violence
- 37.3% of bisexual men have experienced domestic violence
- 47% of transgender people have experienced rape at some point in their lifetime, and 46% have experienced verbal harassment
Same-Sex Domestic Violence in North Carolina
These statistics are horrifying, but they hit especially hard when they happen nearby. Just last March, a Raleigh man was fatally stabbed in his home by his boyfriend. The abuser has since been arrested and charged with murder.
This is what can happen if domestic violence goes unreported, which is a prevalent issue in the LGBTQ community.
In one study, only one in four men in same-sex relationships were willing to call the police after experiencing serious violence. Sadly, North Carolina’s limits on protections for LGBTQ victims of domestic violence may be a factor in the small numbers of same-sex victims who are willing to come forward and take action against an abusive partner.
North Carolina Does Not Protect LGBTQ Relationships Like They Do Straight Relationships
In North Carolina, a straight victim can get a protective order against an abusive partner whether or not they live together. This is called a 50B order.
It prohibits the alleged abuser from owning a gun or contacting the victim through any means. Violating the 50B order will result in a misdemeanor charge and possible jail time.
LGBTQ victims cannot get a 50B order unless they are living with their partner. Instead, they can get a 50C, or a “Civil No-Contact Order.”
The 50C was created for victims of violence who do not have a “personal relationship” with the alleged abuser. A 50C order does not prohibit the abuser from having guns, however, and can’t send an abuser to jail for violating the order.
The unspoken message: North Carolina does not see an LGBTQ couple as a valid relationship. Given the history of our state’s treatment of LGBTQ people, this is not particularly surprising.
State Views on LGBTQ Relationships Could Be Evolving
LGBTQ relationships are as valid as straight relationships. Period. And they should be treated with the same protections as straight relationships.
This argument was recently made in front of the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The plaintiff, a lesbian woman, had tried multiple times to get a 50B order against an allegedly abusive partner. She was denied, even though the partner had access to guns. A judge who denied her request told her that if she had been in a relationship with a man, she would have easily gotten the 50B order.
There are judges throughout the state that will afford 50B orders to same-sex victims of violence, but a change in the law could make this the standard across the state.
Keep an eye out for the decision on this case. If North Carolina changes the definition of a “personal relationship” to include LGBTQ couples that don’t live together, judges can provide significantly more protection to victims who may otherwise be in harm’s way.
Don’t assume the state’s current views mean you will avoid charges, however. Even if North Carolina does not consider abuse or an attack a domestic matter, it is still possible to get hit with assault, battery, or a host of other charges. Be ready to defend yourself.