Hearing a New Story About Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse

  • Catherine DonovanEmail author
  • Rebecca Barnes
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Victims and Victimology book series (PSVV)


In Chapter  5, our focus shifts to the implications of our findings for policy and practice. We begin with a brief overview of current policy and practice responses to both LGB and/or T+ intimate partner violence and abuse (IPVA) and perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) within the UK, with significant gaps in provision for all perpetrators being noted. However, we demonstrate in this chapter that although participants widely reported support needs and a desire to change how they behaved in relationships, few would have been at the threshold for a perpetrator intervention. This leads us to argue for a more holistic, ‘relationships services’ approach to responding to different types of IPVA. We discuss participants’ help-seeking experiences and barriers, including those related to the intersections between being LGB and/or T+ and other aspects of their identities and biographies. Finally, we introduce the Coral Project Power, Control and Space for Reaction Wheel as a new tool for practitioners. Accompanying this are recommendations for providing more nuanced, safer and inclusive responses to LGB and/or T+ people who are experiencing and/or enacting ‘abusive’ behaviours, many of which would enhance responses to heterosexual, cisgender people too.


Barriers to help-seeking Coercive control Counselling and psychotherapy Couples counselling Domestic violence and abuse Domestic violence perpetrator programmes Ecological approach Intersectionality Intimate partner violence and abuse Lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender LGBT-inclusive services Power and control wheel Space for reaction Typologies of domestic violence and abuse Victims/survivors 


  1. Barlow, C., Johnson, K., Walklate, S., & Humphreys, L. (2019, July 22). Putting coercive control into practice: Problems and possibilities. The British Journal of Criminology.
  2. Barnes, R., & Donovan, C. (2016). Developing interventions for abusive partners in lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender relationships. In S. Hilder & V. Bettinson (Eds.), Domestic violence: Interdisciplinary perspectives on protection, prevention and intervention (pp. 297–320). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brennan, I. R., Burton, V., Gormally, S., & O’Leary, N. (2019). Service provider difficulties in operationalizing coercive control. Violence Against Women, 25(6), 635–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Calton, J. M., Cattaneo, L. B., & Gebhard, K. T. (2016). Barriers to help seeking for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer survivors of intimate partner violence. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 17(5), 585–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cannon, C. (2019). What services exist for LGBTQ perpetrators of intimate partner violence in batterer intervention programs across North America? A qualitative study. Partner Abuse, 10(2), 222–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clayton, J., Donovan, C., & Merchant, J. (2015). Distancing and limited resourcefulness: Third sector service provision under austerity localism in the North East of England. Urban Studies, 53(4), 723–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Colgan, F., Hunter, C., & McKearney, A. (2014). ‘Staying alive’: The impact of ‘austerity cuts’ on the LGBT Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) in England and Wales. London: London Metropolitan University.Google Scholar
  8. Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Department of Justice (DHSSPS and DoJ). (2016). Stopping domestic and sexual violence and abuse in Northern Ireland: A seven year strategy. Belfast: DHSSPS and DoJ.Google Scholar
  10. Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. (2017). Wheels. Retrieved September 21, 2019, from
  11. Donovan, C., & Barnes, R. (2019). Making sense of discourses of sameness and difference in agency responses to abusive LGB and/or T partners. Sexualities, 22(5–6), 785–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Donovan, C., & Barnes, R. (in press). Help-seeking among lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender victims/survivors of domestic violence and abuse: The impacts of cisgendered heteronormativity and invisibility. Journal of Sociology.
  13. Donovan, C., Barnes, R., & Nixon, C. (2014). The Coral Project: Exploring abusive behaviours in lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender relationships: Interim report. Sunderland and Leicester: University of Sunderland and University of Leicester. Retrieved March 30, 2019, from
  14. Donovan, C., & Durey, M. (2018). ‘Well that would be nice, but we can’t do that in the current climate’: Prioritising services under austerity. In P. Rushton & C. Donovan (Eds.), Austerity policies: Bad ideas in practice (pp. 197–220). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Donovan, C., & Hester, M. (2011). Seeking help from the enemy: Help-seeking strategies of those in same sex relationships who have experienced domestic abuse. Child and Family Law Quarterly, 23(1), 26–40.Google Scholar
  16. Donovan, C., & Hester, M. (2014). Domestic violence and sexuality: What’s love got to do with it? Bristol: Policy Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Duke, A., & Davidson, M. M. (2009). Same-sex intimate partner violence: Lesbian, gay and bisexual affirmative outreach and advocacy. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 18(8), 795–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fish, J. (2008). Navigating queer street: Researching the intersections of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) identities in health research. Sociological Research Online, 13(1), 12. Retrieved August 17, 2019, from Scholar
  19. Formby, E. (2017). Exploring LGBT spaces and communities: Contrasting identities, belongings and wellbeing. Abingdon: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gilbert, B. (2013). Public protection? The implications of Grayling’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ agenda on the safety of women and children. British Journal of Community Justice, 11(2–3), 123–134.Google Scholar
  21. Guadalupe-Diaz, X. L., & Jasinski, J. (2017). ‘I wasn’t a priority, I wasn’t a victim’: Challenges in help seeking for transgender survivors of intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 23(6), 772–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hart, B. (1986). Lesbian battering: An examination. In K. Lobel (Ed.), Naming the violence: Speaking out about lesbian battering (pp. 173–189). Seattle: Seal Press.Google Scholar
  23. Heise, L. (1998). Violence against women: An integrated, ecological framework. Violence Against Women, 4, 262–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Herman, J. (2015). Trauma and recovery: The aftermath of violence—From domestic abuse to political terror. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  25. Hodes, C., & Mennicke, A. (2019). Is it conflict or abuse? A practice note for furthering differential assessment and response. Journal of Clinical Social Work, 47(2), 176–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Home Office. (2009). Together we can end violence against women and girls: A strategy. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  27. Home Office. (2016). Ending violence against women and girls: Strategy 2016–2020. Retrieved September 9, 2019, from
  28. Home Office. (2019a). Transforming the response to domestic abuse: Consultation response and draft bill. London: Crown Copyright. Retrieved September 27, 2019, from
  29. Home Office. (2019b). Position statement on male victims of crimes considered in the cross-government strategy on ending violence against women and girls (VAWG). Retrieved September 9, 2019, from
  30. Johnson, H., Eriksson, L., Mazerolle, P., & Wortley, R. (2019). Intimate femicide: The role of coercive control. Feminist Criminology, 14(1), 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Johnson, M. P. (2008). A typology of domestic violence: Intimate terrorism, violent resistance, and situational couple violence. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Karakurt, G., Whiting, K., Van Esch, C., Bolen, S., & Calabrese, J. (2016). Couple therapy for intimate partner violence: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 42(4), 567–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kelly, L., & Westmarland, N. (2015). Domestic violence perpetrator programmes: Steps towards change. Project Mirabal Final Report. London and Durham: London Metropolitan University and Durham University.Google Scholar
  34. Lempert, L. (1997). The other side of help: Negative effects in the help-seeking processes of abused women. Qualitative Sociology, 20(2), 289–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Leone, J. M., Lape, M. E., & Xu, Y. (2014). Women’s decisions to not seek formal help for partner violence: A comparison of intimate terrorism and situational couple violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(10), 1850–1876.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mendoza, J., & Dolan-Soto, D. R. (2011). Running same-sex batterer groups: Critical reflections on the New York City gay and lesbian anti-violence project and the Toronto David Kelley Services Partner Assault Response Program. In J. L. Ristock (Ed.), Intimate partner violence in LGBTQ lives (pp. 274–300). New York and Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Mitchell, M., Beninger, K., Rahim, N., & Arthur, S. (2013). Implications of austerity for LGBT people and services. London: NatCen.Google Scholar
  38. Myhill, A., & Kohl, K. (2016, November 1). The ‘Golden Thread’: Coercive control and risk assessment for domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Scholar
  39. Pence, E. L., & Shephard, M. F. (1999). An introduction: Developing a coordinated community response. In M. F. Shephard & E. L. Pence (Eds.), Coordinating community responses to domestic violence: Lessons from Duluth and beyond (pp. 3–25). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Relate. (2016). All together now: Stronger relationships for a stronger society. Retrieved September 7, 2019, from
  41. Relate, Relationships Scotland and Marriage Care. (2017). It takes two: Couple relationships in the UK. Retrieved August 17, 2019, from
  42. Ristock, J. (2002). No more secrets: Violence in lesbian relationships. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Roberts, N. (2018). Inspecting ‘transforming rehabilitation’: The pitfalls of an austerity managerialist approach to offender supervision. In P. Rushton & C. Donovan (Eds.), Austerity policies: Bad ideas in practice (pp. 121–146). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Robinson, A. L., Myhill, A., & Wire, J. (2018). Practitioner (mis)understandings of coercive control in England and Wales. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 18(1), 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Roe & Jadoginsky. (n.d.). Gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans power and control wheel. Austin, TX: Texas Council on Family Violence. Retrieved September 21, 2019, from
  46. Rollnick, S., Heather, N., Gold, R., & Hall, W. (1992). Development of a short ‘readiness to change’ questionnaire for use in brief, opportunistic interventions among excessive drinkers. British Journal of Addiction, 87(5), 743–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Scottish Government & Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). (2009). Safer lives: Changed lives: A shared approach to tackling violence against women in Scotland. Retrieved September 9, 2019, from
  48. Scottish Government & COSLA. (2018). Equally safe: Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. Retrieved September 9, 2019, from
  49. Sharp-Jeffs, N., & Kelly, L. (2016). Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) case analysis: Report for standing together. Retrieved August 17, 2019, from
  50. Simpson, E. K., & Helfrich, C. A. (2014). Oppression and barriers to service for Black, lesbian survivors of intimate partner violence. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 26(4), 441–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stark, E. (2007). Coercive control: How men entrap women in personal life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Stonewall. (2018). LGBT in Britain: Home and communities. London: Stonewall.Google Scholar
  53. Tavistock Relationships. (2016). Working relationally with couples where there is situational violence: A policy briefing from Tavistock Relationships. London: Tavistock Relationships.Google Scholar
  54. Tomsich, E. A., Tunstall, A. M., & Gover, A. R. (2015). Couples counseling and domestic violence. In W. G. Jennings (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of crime and punishment. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  55. Towers, J., & Walby, S. (2012). Measuring the impact of cuts in public expenditure on the provision of services to prevent violence against women and girls. Lancaster University Report for Northern Rock Foundation and Trust for London. Lancaster: Lancaster University.Google Scholar
  56. Trute, B. (1998). Going beyond gender-specific treatments in wife battering: Pro-feminist couple and family therapy. Aggression & Violent Behavior, 3(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Universities UK (UUK). (2016). Changing the culture: Report of the Universities UK Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students. Retrieved May 27, 2017, from
  58. Velonis, A. J. (2016). He never did anything you typically think of as abuse: Experiences with violence in controlling and non-controlling relationships in a non-agency sample of women. Violence Against Women, 22(9), 1031–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Walby, S., & Towers, J. (2018). Untangling the concept of coercive control: Theorizing domestic violent crime. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 18(1), 7–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Weeks, J., Heaphy, B., & Donovan, C. (2001). Same-sex intimacies: Families of choice and other life experiments. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  61. Welsh Government. (2016). National strategy on violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence—2016–2021. Retrieved September 9, 2019, from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Durham UniversityDurhamUK
  2. 2.University of LeicesterLeicesterUK

Personalised recommendations