Violence in the “double closet”: female same-sex intimate partner violence and minority stress in China

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been identified as a public health issue among both heterosexual and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) populations. While attention has often been paid to IPV among heterosexual couples, there is limited research on the causes of and interventions for IPV confronting same-sex couples, especially those in non-Euro-American contexts. This article highlights the “double closet” nature of same-sex IPV, and, in particular, the triply marginalized position of lesbian victims of IPV due to their gender, sexuality, and experiences of violence in China. Extending ongoing discussions about minority stress faced by sexual minority people, it reveals how the daily stressors associated with identity concealment, coupled with relational selfhood and heteronormative institutional constraints, complicate lesbian relationships and violence in China. Focusing on the family-centered context provides an important window into the ways in which the perceived need to stay in the closet (hide one’s sexual identity) and rejection from the family of origin and the state influence lesbians’ experiences of IPV and inhibit many of them from disclosing violence. This article builds a dialogue between discussions of the closet and existing literature on IPV. It concludes by drawing attention to the need to break the silence around IPV and build alliances for developing culturally sensitive interventions aimed at addressing IPV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-145
JournalJournal of Lesbian Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Coming out
  • intimate partner violence
  • lesbian
  • minority stress
  • relational self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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