You may have heard of ‘gaslighting’, a term used to describe a form of emotional and psychological manipulation and abuse.
Gaslighting can cause someone to question their own perception of events, their memory, their thoughts, and doubt their sanity.
It is common for gaslighting to include behaviour such as someone abusing their partner by telling them they are irrational, imagining things, are overly emotional or “crazy”.
According to Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre gaslighting can include:
Long term gaslighting or psychological abuse can leave a person unsure of their sanity, their perception of reality and feeling that they are going “crazy”. This can lead people to experience emotional and mental health issues.
Gaslighting can occur in intimate partner relationships as well as within families, at work, in a community group or in a group of friends. The onus of responsibility is always on the person using gaslighting to stop.
If you are using or experiencing gaslighting, there is support available to you
Trust your Instincts – You Deserve Respect
With Respect – 1800 542 847
Coming out is the term used to explain the process in which you tell someone or a group of people about your sexuality, your gender or gender identity or explain that you are intersex. Coming out usually occurs more than once, sometimes daily, and it is an unique experience for everyone.
Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse, queer, non-binary, or are someone with a variation in sex characteristics, we often make daily decisions to come out or to friends, chosen family, colleagues, school staff, service providers, our parents or family members. We often make decisions where we are faced with feeling unsafe, feeling uncomfortable
Sometimes we are placed in positions where we need to come out before we are ready or regardless of how comfortable we feel. This may often occur in medical situations such as visiting a GP or a sexual health clinic.
People tend to come out differently in different situations. You might start a new job or volunteer position, come out to no one when you start and then slowly choose to come out to your new colleagues once you begin to know more about them and trust them.
Coming out is a personal decision that may take time. You may choose to come out to certain people and not others, or you may choose not to come out at all. Coming out can lead to positive experiences and build stronger connections with friends, family and community. In certain situations, coming out can also have negative consequences, such as physical harm or isolation from family.
It is important to spend time reflecting on who you would feel comfortable to share with. Consider whether you feel safe, whether you can communicate what you’re needing from them, and listen to your instincts. It is important to remember that there is no timeline that you need to adhere to and there is no right or wrong way.
If you or someone you know is thinking about coming out, here are a few things to think about:
Often when we come out to others, they will have questions, which can be personal. It is important to remember that this is your story and it is your right not to answer questions if you are not ready or if you don’t feel comfortable to talk about it.What will you do if things don’t go well?
Sometimes we choose to come out to others and don’t get the response we deserve. The person you choose to tell may not accept the information or may feel sad, confused or angry. Sometimes there is no reaction. For some of us, coming out may negatively change the relationships we have with partners, children, family or work friends in a way we did not anticipate.
Coming out can be both a positive experience, and a difficult or unsafe experience. Coming out is often a period in which intimate partner or family violence is most likely to occur or escalate. If this happens to you, consider talking to a trusted friend or contacting QLife of Switchboard to seek support.
It can be helpful to plan and role-play scenarios for dealing with potentially charged situations. Consider having a trusted person support you during the conversation and an exit strategy. It is important to know what your support systems are, including who is safe and supportive.
With Respect 11800 542 847) is available for support, advice and referral.
That person has chosen you to talk to. This shows they trust you and are comfortable sharing this information with you.
Your initial response is very important and may be meaningful to this person. You may wish to start by thanking them for sharing their story with you and offer to be there to support them if they would like to talk. Respect the person’s wishes if they do not choose to talk further with you or answer questions you may have.
Coming out can be a high-risk period for many people, especially if they face rejection or isolation from friends and family. At times of high risk and where things do not go well, you may need to seek professional support and advice for your friend.
In an emergency contact 000.
If your partner or ex-partner is threatening to out you... that is not ok
If someone you are talking to online threatens to out you… that is not ok
If a work colleague threatens to out you at work... that is not ok
If anyone pressures you to come out before you are ready... that is not ok.
You deserve to feel safe and comfortable and it is your right to make decisions about when you come out and to whom.
Tell someone you trust if anyone is threatening you. We all need to respect the needs of others and recognise that not everyone is out in all the parts of their lives.
To be bisexual is to experience “the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”
Within our LGBTIQ+ communities, many of us are multi-gender attracted.
Like everyone, bisexual plus and multi-gender attracted people want to feel safe, welcome, and respected within all their relationships, including with partners or families, at work or at school.
Being able to express who we are without fear of discrimination or hostility is important, especially within relationships. But sometimes our relationships don’t turn out the way we plan or hope for.
Many multi-gendered attracted (MGA) and bisexual-plus (Bi+) people often face stigma and discrimination about their lives, their relationships and their families or face negative messages which reinforce shame. Sometimes this occurs within intimate partner relationships.
Negative stereotypes about bi+/MGA people perpetuate myths that they are untrustworthy and more prone to cheat in their relationships or that they are confused or undecided. These stereotypes can lead to poor mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression or mental illness and isolate bi+/MGA people from the community.
Just like homophobia and transphobia, biphobia, including biphobic behaviour and attitudes, exists across all levels of society, including within the gay and lesbian communities.
Addressing biphobia, bi-erasure and bi invisibility in our LGBTIQ+ communities ensures everyone feels welcome.
Our LGBTIQ+ communities should be respectful and safe spaces for everyone to enjoy.
All of us deserve respect.
Recommended Resources – hyperlink needed
Bi5 Project https://www.bi5.org.au/
Bi Alliance http://www.bi-alliance.org/
Melbourne Bisexual Network https://www.melbournebisexualnetwork.com/
 Quote taken from Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World, edited by Robyn Ochs and Sarah E Rowley, 2005.
Party and play can happen in lots of different ways in lots of different places.
You have drinks with friends on Friday night, go out for dinner on the weekend or you might attend an LGBTIQ+ social event where the night ends with everyone going home. Sometimes we hook up with someone and end up at someone’s house, a party or a venue.
Often hook ups can be fun, but sometimes things can turn a bit more serious. Anyone can be caught off guard and will suddenly need to think about staying safe, consent and respect. Regardless of the situation and whether drugs are involved, all parties have the right to make decisions about their bodies, drug use, and when to leave.
Drugs, alcohol and sex can combine to make for a fun night out but consent, negotiation and knowing your own limits all play a role in keeping you, and those around you, safe and respected. it is important to find out the risks of the drugs you’re using, especially if you are going to mix them with alcohol. Some of these combinations can be dangerous and if you are living with HIV, they may interact with your meds.
It is your right to say no, even if you start something and change your mind. You can take steps to reduce any potential harm by making a plan early on and considering any situations which may be unsafe or make you uncomfortable. If the dynamic is unsafe you may want to leave the situation.
For over 18 only
Ending a relationship, separating from your partner or partners, or getting a divorce can be very difficult and upsetting for everyone involved.
The end of a relationship can occur in a mutual and respectful way. In many cases people choose to attend mediation, access counselling or use financial advice services to help them work out the best options for the future care of children or pets, and for help with dividing assets like housing, finances or other matters.
Sometimes ending a relationship, or wanting to end one, can produce conflict with partner/s. Conflict can be unpredictable and can escalate into intimate partner or family violence.
If this happens, and you become worried that the relationship is abusive or violent (or if someone else close to you is worried), then you may benefit from specialist support. It can be difficult, and may also put you at risk, to try to handle these situations on your own.
If you’re in this situation, you can contact WithRespect￼￼ to speak to a counsellor. With Respect partner organisations can provide you with a range of services. You can access telephone support through Switchboard, so you can talk to someone quickly about how you feel and what’s happening. Through queerspace you can access wrap-around individual support, relationship counselling and help for families and children during a separation. Through Thorne Harbour Health, you can access support and counselling services as well as behaviour change programs. If you need to leave the relationship quickly for your safety, both queerspace and Thorne Harbour Health can help you to access financial support to help you leave.
If you are ending a relationship you may have questions about your legal status in the relationship, as a parent or within the family, that you can’t answer yourself or by getting information from the internet. You may need to contact someone to get independent legal advice. (Please note: This information is not a substitute for actual legal advice and is intended as a quick guide only).
Seek information and support here:
Laws regarding property division after separation apply equally to all partners regardless of the gender of those involved.
Links to legal information:
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby
Victoria Legal Aid
St Kilda Legal Service and Fitzroy Legal Service
Links to support services:
LGBTIQ Outreach at St Kilda Community Legal Service
LGBTIQ Family Law Clinic at Fitzroy Legal Service
It can be difficult to see your friend, family member, or colleague being treated abusively in a relationship. Your first instinct might be to take action and help them immediately.
It is important to remember that the person may not be ready to take immediate action or it may not be safe for them to do so. They may have care of children or pets to consider or may not be emotionally ready to identify their experience as family violence. Whatever the reason, it is important to start a conversation, listen to them, and remember that they are the expert in their own story.
Another Closet provides some good suggestions to get started:
Visist http://www.anothercloset.com.au/emotional-practical-support (hyperlink)
You help them develop a safety plan. A safety plan is a way to plan how your friend can be safe while they make decisions about their next steps.
You can contact WithRespect as a friend to ask for support and advice on what to include in a safety plan.
If your friend, children or family members are in immediate danger call 000.
With Respect’s integrated service model offers case management and counselling services for LGBTIQ people experiencing violence. This could be for people who are using violence against partners or family members, so they can work out how to change their behaviour and take responsibility for it; and it could be for people who are victims of abuse and violence, so they can work out how to make their lives safer and work towards recovery.
With Respect offers thorough assessment to both perpetrators and victim survivors while maintaining strong focus on safety and managing risks.
Service providers seeking to make referrals or support clients from LGBTIQ communities are encouraged to phone With Respect 1800 542 847.
Together we can create a safe community where all LGBTIQ people and our families can access family violence services when they need them.