The following is a brief, alphabetical list of terms used in to talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and intimate partner violence. It is important to note that our list is not exhaustive, and people may describe their identities differently than the terms listed here.
A range of negative thoughts, actions, or feelings about someone who is or is perceived to be bisexual. Anyone can act in a bi-phobic way, including gay or lesbian people who judge a bisexual person by saying, “You are really gay; you just don’t want to admit it.” A heterosexual person could use bi-phobia to say, “You are just experimenting and just want to sleep with everyone.” An abuser could judge a bisexual partner by saying that they will probably cheat with someone of another sex, or that they are promiscuous.
Being emotionally, physically, and sexually attracted to both males and females. A person who is bisexual may or may not have had sex with both males and females.
An adjective that mean non-transgender. In other words, a cisgender woman is someone who was female at birth, raised as a girl, and who identifies as a woman. In contrast, a transgender woman is someone who was perceived to be male at birth, was most likely raised as a boy, and who identifies as a woman. That is, cisgender provides a name for a gender identity that society considers to match one’s sex.
(In the) Closet
When a person is not out or open about sexual orientation or gender identity. A person who is open about orientation or identity is said to be “out of the closet.” It is critical to remember, however, that just because one person knows that a person is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, this does not mean they are out to everyone. Abusive partners may threaten to out a survivor to important people in their life.
Cycle of Abuse
Abuse often follows a pattern, which includes three main stages: honeymoon, tension building, and explosion. The honeymoon stage often involves the abusive partner being charming and sweet and, quite possibly, apologizing for the last explosion. They may give gifts, cry, and beg for forgiveness. Tension building is the stage where the abusive partner starts yelling more, nitpicking, acting moody, and using put-downs. The explosion stage can involve use of a weapon, humiliating, hurting, and sexually abusing a partner. Then the cycle begins again; each time the honeymoon stage gets shorter and less intense, and the explosion more violent or abusive. Check out a diagram of the cycle.
Domestic violence or domestic abuse involves a person exerting power and control over a partner. The relationship may be long-term or dating or anywhere in between. Domestic violence is not always physical; it can also be in emotional, psychological, sexual, verbal, and financial. (See the LGBT Power and Control Wheel.) On this website, the term “partner abuse” refers to both domestic violence and sexual assault.
Most commonly used to describe men, gay indicates that a person is attracted to people of the same sex. It most often describes men who are physically, emotionally, and sexually attracted to other men. The word “gay” describes a sexual orientation and can include attraction, partnering patterns, sexual behaviors, or any combination of these. If person identifies as gay, this does not mean they have had a same-sex relationship or have had sex with a person of the same sex.
A range of negative thoughts, actions, or feelings about someone who is or is perceived to be gay or lesbian. Anyone can act in a homophobic way. An abuser may use homophobia by calling a partner “fag” or “dyke” in a derogatory way. An abuser could also use mainstream homophobic beliefs to abuse a partner; a few examples include saying that homophobia is a sin, justifying sexual behaviors, or threatening to out the survivor to friends, coworkers, or family members.
Abuse in relationships tends to follow a cyclic pattern. The honeymoon stage often follows an outburst or explosion of abuse by the abusive partner. During the honeymoon stage, the abuser may apologize, buy gifts, beg for forgiveness, vow never to do it again, and be very emotional about what happened.
Some lesbian, gay, and bisexual people experience negative feelings toward themselves related to sexual orientation. Regardless of whether a person is in an abusive relationship or not, internalized homophobia can lead to feelings of low self esteem, a desire to not be out, and possibly abuse of alcohol or other drugs to cope with negative feelings or denial.
Some transgender people experience negative feelings toward themselves related to gender identity. Regardless of whether a person is in an abusive relationship or not, internalized transphobia can lead to feelings of low self esteem, a desire to not be out, and possibly abuse of alcohol or other drugs to cope with negative feelings or denial.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Intimate partner violence includes domestic violence and sexual assault that happen in any relationship from a first date to a long-term relationship. IPV includes all types of abuse: emotional, verbal, psychological, physical, sexual, and financial. People who abuse their partners in these ways use power and control to isolate and threaten their partners. Partners do not need to live together for IPV to occur. Sexual assault or rape do happen as part of IPV in some relationships. IPV is mostly referred to as “partner abuse” on this website.
A lesbian is a woman who is physically, emotionally, and sexually attracted to other women. The word “lesbian” describes a sexual orientation and can include attraction, partnering patterns, sexual behaviors, or any combination of these. If a person identifies as a lesbian, this does not mean they have had a relationship with a woman or have had sex with a woman.
This phrase describes a myth in the lesbian community that relationships between women will always be peaceful, equitable, respectful, and free of abuse, power, and control. In theory, relationships–and perhaps communities–free of men would be free of the power and control that often come with sexism and interactions between men and women. In truth, lesbian relationships sometimes DO include power and control, yet because of the myth of the lesbian utopia, people often refuse to recognize this abuse for what it is.
A word that describes both domestic violence and / or sexual assault that occurs between two partners. This can include many forms of abuse.
Power and Control Wheel
The power and control wheel is a tool with a long history in the partner abuse movement. It is a diagram that appears as a wheel with power and control at the center, and various types of abuse, with examples, as its spokes. Follow this link to view the LGBT Power and Control Wheel.
Preferred Gender Pronouns (PGPs)
This term refers to what pronouns an individual would like used when being addressed. While some individuals prefer pronouns like “he” or “she,” others may prefer gender neutral pronouns, or pronouns that do not indicate femininity or masculinity. It is best to ask what pronouns each person prefers, rather than assuming or guessing. You may not think it is any of your business, yet it is likely the person would prefer that you ask. Visit FORGE for a discussion of gender pronouns.
Queer can be used to describe gender or sexual identities, claim a unique identity or to describe the LGBTQ community. Note: “Queer” has been reclaimed by some, though in the past has been used as a slur against LGBTQ People. It is sometimes because of this that it is used as a political identity.
Rape / Sexual Assault
Rape / Sexual assault includes unwanted, coercive, non-consensual sexual contact. Rape includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Sexual assault also includes: touching genitalia, chests / breasts, and other body parts without permission. Rape does happen in relationships. Rape does happen to LGBTQ people. It can happen as part of a date or longer relationship.
An umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of people whose gender identity or expression may not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Please visit FORGE for additional information.
This term is sometimes used to describe a process that some transgender people go through to to transition genders (physical, social, emotional, legal, medical). Transitioning may include taking hormones, having surgeries, changing one’s voice, hair removal or growth, changing one’s name and / or legal papers, and presenting themselves in a different way than before. One does not need to “transition” in any way to be identified as transgender.
A range of negative thoughts, actions, or feelings about someone who is or is perceived to be a transgender person. Anyone can act in a transphobic way, including gay or lesbian people who may treat transgender people poorly or do not want transgender people in the LGBTQ community. Non-transgender people often misunderstand what it means to be transgender and judge the way a transgender person, or anyone perceived to be transgender, acts, dresses, or identifies. An abuser could use transphobia to abuse a transgender partner by threatening to interrupt medical interventions involved in transitioning or to out a transgender person to family, friends, or coworkers. The abusive partner can also use derogatory words about the transgender partner.