Half of Coupled Gay Men Have Been Abused by a Partner, Study Finds

"We're stuck in this mental representation of domestic violence as a female victim and a male perpetrator."

New research shows that nearly half of all men in same-sex relationships have experienced some type of abuse at the hands of their partner, HealthDay News reports.

The study, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Men’s Health, surveyed 320 men in 160 couples. Results show that 46% reported some type of partner abuse in the last year, including physical or sexual violence, emotional abuse, and controlling behavior.

“If you just looked at physical and sexual violence in male couples, it’s about 25 to 30 percent, roughly the same as women,” explains study author Rob Stephenson, director of University of Michigan’s Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities.

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“We’re stuck in this mental representation of domestic violence as a female victim and a male perpetrator, and while that is very important, there are other forms of domestic violence in all types of relationships,” he continues.

While stress factors contributing to domestic abuse in same-sex couples are similar to those in heterosexual couples—money, unemployment, drug abuse—the study also found a major correlation between abuse in male couples and internalized homophobia. Specifically, struggling with his sexual identity may trigger a gay man to physically or emotionally abuse his partner.

Because victims may have limited control over condom use during sex, domestic abuse in male couples may also increase the risk of HIV infection. Partners in abusive relationships also tend not to communicate about HIV status and prevention.

Stephenson urges health care providers to start asking male couples about domestic abuse.

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