Recently two WNBA players have been in the headlines for accusations or charges of domestic violence: Natasha Howard with the Seattle Storm and Riquna Williams with the Los Angeles Sparks. While society has mostly focused on bringing awareness to heterosexual domestic violence, unfortunately, those in the LGBTQ community are victims of domestic violence at an equal rate.
According to an intimate partner survey in 2010, 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime; and 26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. A 2012 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that less than less than 5% of LGBTQ assault victims sought orders of protection.
There have been many speculations as to why same-sex domestic violence rates are as high or even higher than among heterosexuals. When most people think of domestic violence, they think of a man assaulting a woman. But domestic violence can happen to men just as it can to gays or lesbians. One theory is that some in the LGBTQ community might fear that reporting domestic violence will further tarnish a community that is already under scrutiny and faces criticism.
Also, many in the LGBTQ community are already ostracized from their families for coming out, so they may not have the network or support to encourage them to leave or report a domestic violence situation. Forty-five percent of victims do not report domestic violence to police because they fear homophobia will prevent them from receiving the assistance they need.
Language of Domestic Violence Laws in Washington
According to RCW 26.50.010, domestic violence is defined as any physical harm or assault to a
"Family or household members" means spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.
Same-sex partners and spouses are included in this definition.
Defenses to Accusations of Domestic Violence
Sometimes in same-sex domestic violence situations, the police will mistakenly arrest the wrong person based on their own personal prejudices or prejudices based on the arrestee's appearance. In Washington, police are required to make an arrest without a warrant if they respond to a domestic violence call and believe that a crime was committed, but a mandatory arrest does not mean you are guilty. An experienced domestic violence attorney will defend your rights and expose the prejudices that may have led to you being wrongly accused or arrested.
Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
A former prosecutor, Steve Karimi now defends those accused of crimes in the Seattle area. If you or someone you know is facing same-sex domestic violence allegations, contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 today for a free consultation.