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Internalized Heterosexism, Outness, Relationship Satisfaction, and Violence in Lesbian Relationships

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posted on 27.02.2015, 00:00 by Judith M. Hines
For the past several decades, research on intimate partner violence has been primarily focused on heterosexual couples. Yet researchers and domestic violence workers are aware that intimate partner violence takes place in lesbian couples as well. Early feminist theories regarding intimate partner violence that have been entrenched in patriarchy and misogyny do not make sense for lesbian relationships. Additionally, lesbians live in a heterosexist world that has historically misunderstood, ignored or disapproved of their relationships. This study of 904 lesbians surveyed as to whether or not and how the phenomena of outness, internalized heterosexism and relationship satisfaction are associated with violence and abuse in lesbian relationships. This study found that higher amounts of internalized heterosexism were associated with higher amounts of violence as a target and a perpetrator. The results of this study indicate that internalized heterosexism and relationship satisfaction are negatively linked to each other. Contrary to the hypothesis, internalized heterosexism was not significantly associated with outness in this study. Lower levels of outness were not associated with higher amounts of violence in a lesbian relationship as a perpetrator or target. This study found that the variable, relationship satisfaction, partially mediated the relationship between internalized heterosexism and all three variables of IPV.



Hsieh, Chang-ming


Social Work

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University of Illinois at Chicago

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Bennett, Larry W. O'Brien, Patricia Watson, Amy C. Smith, Carrol

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