Quick Exit
With Respect is not a crisis response service. For crisis responses phone:
  • 000 Victoria Police for immediate safety
  • 1800 RESPECT family violence and sexual assault 24-hour telephone support
  • 1800 015 188 Safe Steps Victoria available 24 hours for crisis support for women
To leave this site quickly, click the quick exit button.
Professionals Pages

Professionals Pages (19)

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:03

Referral pathways for people seeking help

Written by

As the Royal Commission noted, LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence have tended not to access formal supports, but rather sought support among friends and community members, if at all. This reflects barriers LGBTIQ people currently experience when accessing the service system and its limited capacity to respond to circumstances where family or intimate partner violence characteristics do not resemble a traditional cisgendered heteronormative model.

With the reform of the service system following the Royal Commission, there are emerging pathways for LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence, and work towards improved responses from existing mainstream services is in progress.

The following are some service pathways for LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence to seek support:

Specialised services

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:00

Family violence & LGBTIQ

Written by

There are additional unique forms of family violence in LGBTIQ communities. It is also important to understand the context of historical and contemporary discrimination and the limited effectiveness of applying a heterosexual, gendered lens to family and intimate partner violence among LGBTIQ people: for example, response models and interventions based on binary notions of victim/perpetrator.



A recent literature review by OurWatch has found:


  • Rates of intimate partner violence within lesbian, gay and queer relationships are as high as the rates experienced by cisgender women in intimate heterosexual relationships.
  • Lesbians are more likely than gay men to report having been in an abusive relationship.
  • Rates of intimate partner violence may be higher for bisexual, trans and gender diverse people.
  • It is unknown how rates of intimate partner and/or family violence against people with intersex people compare as there is a research gap.


Violence from other family members may also be higher, particularly against trans and gender-diverse young people. Some examples are:


  • Young people who come out about their sexuality or gender being kicked out of the family home.
  • Elderly, dependant trans women being denied access to hormone treatment by their children.

Structural violence


LGBTIQ people can experience all the dynamics attributed to heterosexual intimate partner violence, as understood by the mainstream family violence sector. However, they are also more likely to experience structural violence. For example, people in LGBTIQ communities can have difficult relationships with family of origin and experience stigma based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, choice of partner or family form. They may also be more likely to experience complex, stigmatised and often intersecting risk factors for family violence, such as: alcohol or other drug use, depression, anxiety, suicidality, neurodiversity, HIV-positive status, chronic illness or disability, sex work and homelessness. These intersecting issues need to be considered alongside increased vulnerability to family violence among particular groups of people such as young people, older people, people with disabilities, people with a mental illness or chronic health conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from multicultural communities.
Not only can this put them at higher risk of family violence, but it may also create barriers to help-seeking. These intersecting issues need to be considered alongside increased vulnerability to family violence among particular groups of people such as young people, older people, people with disabilities, people with a mental illness or chronic health conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from multicultural communities.


Sexual Violence

Within Australia, research examining rates of sexual violence within LGBTIQ communities is scarce and the rates of sexual violence experienced by LGBTIQ people vary across studies. A recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that among the general population, almost 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. In the Victorian Coming Forward report, 1 in 20 (5 percent) LGBTIQ respondents reported sexual assault in the past two years, and in Private Lives, the rate of reporting sexual assault in the past year was 2.6 percent for lesbian women and 2.2 percent for gay men. It has been noted limited or problematic means for defining and measuring sexual violence in research may result in lower disclosure rates. Research indicates trans and gender diverse people are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual violence. In Australia, the Private Lives report found trans women respondents were 2.5 times more likely to report sexual violence than the rest of the survey sample. Internationally, studies reviewed by Our Watch indicate higher rates of sexual violence have been reported in trans and gender diverse communities, yet this is an understudied area of research (Scottish Transgender Alliance, 2010). Despite the dearth of research in the area, it is also believed rates of sexual violence experienced by people with intersex variations are the same or higher than non-intersex people. In the study Intersex: Stories and Statistics from Australia some participants reported the shame and stigma associated with their intersex status and/or related medical interventions “made them more susceptible to sexually abusive dynamics”. Our Watch cites international research which indicates bisexual women may experience high levels of sexual violence (Barrett & Pierre, 2013), with one study by the Centre for Disease Control finding that 74.9 percent of bisexual women reported sexual violence in their lifetime (Walters & Lippy, 2016).

Risk factors of Family Violence for LGBTIQ people

At present, there is no comprehensive or evidence-based framework to understand LGBTIQ people’s experiences of family violence, or a framework for addressing LGBTIQ people who use violence in a family setting. This is due in part to a lack of research and due to a default focus on heterosexual cisgendered men’s violence against heterosexual cisgendered women among family violence services. While there is currently no evidence-based list of risk factors for LGBTIQ populations, existing literature suggests some correlations between the following, and both victimisation or perpetration of family and intimate partner violence:

  • Discrimination and marginalisation (“minority stress”);
  • A pressure to portray LGBTIQ relationships as ‘perfect’ to gain greater social acceptance;
  • Heteronormative understandings of gender roles/sexual roles including in relation to parenting roles and expectations (particularly relevant to trans women whose gender identity is often the target of violence);
  • Lack of safe, appropriate services and support and/or knowledge of specialist services where available;
  • Greater social isolation experienced by LGBTIQ people, especially in rural areas
  • Internalised homo/bi/intersex/transphobia;
  • History of childhood abuse (which may also impact on likelihood of help-seeking);
  • Power imbalances in the relationship, e.g. in decision-making;
  • Lower level of education and lower socioeconomic status;
  • Substance abuse and misuse;
  • Poor mental health;
  • Financial dependence;
  • Co-dependency/reliance.

Barriers to accessing support

LGBTIQ people experience many barriers to identifying, reporting and recovering from family violence. These include:

  • The dominant understanding of family violence as always involving a cisgender male perpetrator and cisgender female victim leading to the invisibility of those outside this paradigm. This can result in a lack of recognition by mainstream service providers, bystanders and those experiencing violence to recognise family violence directed at and perpetrated by LGBTIQ people. Similar dominant understandings impact the visibility of family violence towards people with disabilities, young and elderly people and people in care relationships creating a compounding effect for LGBTI people who have these intersectional identities;
  • LGBTIQ people’s distrust of mainstream services due to fears or previous experiences of institutional or interpersonal prejudice, discrimination or inappropriate responses;
  • Fears among victims from LGBTIQ communities that their experience of violence may not be believed or validated (for example where a victim is male or the perpetrator is female);
  • The limitations and gaps in inclusive services and referral pathways: for example, the lack of safe housing options for men and gender-diverse/nonbinary people;
  • Services lacking an understanding of key issues for example:
    • Knowing the differences between sex, gender and sexuality and the impact of misgendering someone,
    • How to appropriately distinguish between a victim/survivor and a perpetrator in intimate partner incidents,
    • The legal rights of rainbow families.


Thursday, 05 March 2020 00:57


Written by

To assist readers understand the terminology used on this web site short, non-exclusive definitions of key words are provided below.

Bisexual: a person who is romantically and sexually attracted to individuals of their own gender and other genders.

Cisgender: When a person is cisgender, they identify as the gender that traditionally matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.

Gay: a person who identifies as a man and is sexually and/or romantically attracted to other people who identify as men. The term gay can also be used in relation to women who are sexually and romantically attracted to other women. Both cis and transgender people may identify as gay.

Gender Diverse: an umbrella term that acknowledges the many different ways people may identify their gender. Examples include: agender, genderfluid, non-binary and genderqueer. It is important to remember gender identity is not a sexual orientation.

Intersex: Intersex Human Rights Australia provides a simple definition of intersex:  Intersex people are born with physical sex characteristics that don’t fit medical and social norms for female or male bodies.

Lesbian: an individual who identifies as a woman and is sexually and/or romantically attracted to other people who identify as women. Both cis and transgender women may identify as lesbians.

LGBTIQ: This is an acronym to refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer people collectively. This is used within this document at times to when referring to experiences shared by these communities. It is also used with the acknowledgement some people may identify as more than one cohort, and people are not these cohorts simultaneously.

Open relationship: Where people have an agreement that they will engage in additional relationships beyond the one that they share. These relationships can be a combination of physical and/or romantic and are practiced by people from mainstream and LGBTIQ communities alike.

Polyamory: The practice of engaging in more than one relationship at any given time, with all parties knowing about these. These relationships can be a combination of physical and/or romantic connection and can be engaged in by people from mainstream and LGBTIQ communities alike.

Queer: The term ‘queer’ is a politicised term and often used as a reaction against pressures to be heterosexual, or pressure that non-heterosexuals, intersex and non-cis people should express themselves only in ways acceptable to the heterosexual mainstream. Like many terms used within the LGBTIQ communities, the use of the word ‘queer’ is not universal. Some people find this term offensive due to its original use as a derisive word, and due to this prior association prefer not to use or reclaim it. As a result, although it is also sometimes used as an umbrella term to describe the full range of LGBTIQ identities, this is not encouraged.

Rainbow Families: Rainbow families are families where one or more people of a family are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse, intersex, queer and non-binary parent or carers including prospective parents and their children.

Sistergirl/Brotherboy: These are terms used for transgender people within some Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities. Sistergirls and Brotherboys have distinct cultural identities and roles.

Sistergirls are Indigenous women who were classified male at birth but live their lives as women, including taking on traditional cultural female practices.

Brotherboys are Indigenous men who were classified female at birth but “choose to live their lives as male, regardless of which stage/path medically they choose”.

Transgender: The term transgender (or trans) is an umbrella term referring to people whose gender identity is different to what was assumed at birth based on the sex that they were assigned. A transgender person may identify as specifically transgender, or simply as male or female, or outside of these binaries.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 00:47

What is Family Violence?

Written by

Under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic), family violence is:

  • behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person if that behaviour
    • is physically or sexually abusive; or
    • is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
    • is economically abusive; or
    • is threatening; or
    • is coercive; or
    • in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person; or
  • behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of, behaviour referred to in paragraph (a).

It is important to note these behaviours can be used via telecommunications (e.g. internet or phone) as well as in person.

Definition of family

The definition of family in the Protection Act is inclusive, and includes:

  • Biological family
  • Kin relationships
  • Marriage, de facto or intimate personal relationships (including lesbian, gay or queer relationships)
  • Parents and children who are not related biologically (including rainbow families)
  • Children who usually reside with another person (e.g. foster children)
  • Children of partners
  • Current and former relationships
  • People living in the same house
  • People living in the same residential facility and who are reliant on care (‘family like’)
  • The carer of a person with a disability if the person regards the carer as a family member.

For LGBTIQ people, this can also include families of choice: friends and community members who play the role of family particularly where families of origin are unsupportive or estranged.

Intimate personal relationships may be monogamous, open or polyamorous, short or long term, live-in or not, married or not, or long distance, both physical and emotional, primarily physical or primarily emotional.

Wednesday, 04 March 2020 13:34


Written by

WithRespect – 1800 LGBTIQ

WithRespect is a new specialist LGBTIQ family violence service funded by the Victorian government in 2017. Its role is to both support people in LGBTIQ communities and their families affected by family violence as well as build the capacity of the integrated family services and specialist family violence system.

WithRespect is a partnership of four LGBTIQ specialist organisations who bring to the service key areas of LGBTIQ service and support specialisation which will be critical elements of the service model:

What does WithRespect do?


WithRespect has been developed to provide the full public health spectrum of prevention, early intervention and tertiary responses for:

  • LGBTIQ people who are, may be, or at risk of experiencing family violence or intimate partner violence;
  • LGBTIQ people who are, think they may be, or at risk of using violence against a family member/s or partner.



WithRespect is not a crisis response service — people in immediate danger should contact 000.


WithRespect is part of the broader family violence service system and provides:


  • Counselling, case management and recovery programs for LGBTIQ victim/survivors of family violence.
  • Programs for LGBTIQ people using violence with the goal that they stop using violence and abuse.
  • Expertise and secondary consultation to agencies who have been the primary contact in LGBTIQ family violence cases such as the police and courts, early childhood and other education providers, primary health and hospitals, maternal and child health and other peri-natal services, AOD and mental health providers, child protection, and integrated and specialised family services.



WithRespect’s key aims are:



  • To reduce intimate partner and family violence in LGBTIQ communities through violence prevention and early intervention activities.
  • To provide effective and appropriate family and intimate partner violence services for LGBTIQ people, their children and families.
  • Provide effective perpetrator interventions for LGBTIQ communities to cease or reduce people’s use of violence and encourage them to recognise and take responsibility for their actions.
  • To build evidence around prevention and responses to family and intimate partner violence experienced by LGBTIQ people, their children and families.
  • To build evidence around perpetrator interventions targeted at LGBTIQ people.


What is an Integrated LGBTIQ Family Violence Service?


The Integrated Service Response model is available for those people experiencing family violence who want an holistic response. This service model provides a perpetrator case specialist and a victim case specialist who work collaboratively to ensure a whole of family approach to service provision. Rather than separating service responses, the service responses for victim and perpetrator in this integrated model are coordinated and supported by a practice lead. They provide the case planning and coordination of the work with both parties. This ensures the safety of victims alongside the engagement with perpetrators who are encouraged to address and abstain from using violence. Alternatively, where a person experiencing violence does not want an integrated response or it is inappropriate to do so, the needs of that person and the person using violence against them are accommodated within separate LGBTIQ-inclusive Family Violence Services.


Intake and referral


Any LGBTIQ person, their family or friends, who are affected by family violence can contact w|respect directly on 1800 LGBTIQ during business hours, Monday – Friday. After hours counselling is available on Wednesday, between 5pm and 11pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, between 10am and 10pm. Services working with LGBTIQ communities, their families or friends who are affected by family violence can refer people for Intake and Referral for support via 1800 LGBTIQ, fax 03 9639 3363. The specialised Intake team can take immediate referrals and are also available to provide secondary consultation and support to other organisations. Consultation may be required regarding the service needs of LGBTIQ clients, their families and friends who are affected by family violence, or in relation to other issues which contribute to their health and wellbeing.

Page 2 of 2

1800 LGBTIQ | 1800 542 847