Domestic violence, broadly defined, includes violence among children, parents, siblings, intimate partners, and other relatives. Help-seeking behaviors for domestic violence, especially among sexual minority (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and others who are not heterosexual) victims, is not well understood. Using the National Crime Victimization Survey, the current study fills a gap in the literature regarding the relationship between sexual orientation and four types of formal help-seeking among victims of violence perpetrated by a relative or an intimate partner: reporting to the police, seeking psychological care, contacting a victim services agency, and seeking medical assistance. This study additionally examined whether individual and incident level variables are related to formal domestic violence help-seeking among sexual minority victims. Results indicate that sexual orientation was significantly related to seeking psychological care and help from a victim services agency, and the relationship between individual and incident level characteristics varies by type of help-seeking among victims of domestic violence. These results suggest that sexual minority victims’ decisions to access services is likely influenced by the availability of services and victims’ perceptions of how they would be treated within the various systems. Future research should continue to examine the help-seeking process among sexual minority victims of domestic violence in order to develop appropriate policy responses and provide services needed by this population.
The relationship between formal help-seeking and sexual orientation among victims of domestic violence