Yes, young LGBTQ+ people can experience domestic abuse from their families or people with which they’re closely connected.

According to the law, you must be “personally connected”, family members or have an intimate relationship with the abuser for the behaviour to be categorised as domestic violence. Both you and the abuser must also be over the age of sixteen.

This means that parents, siblings, or partners can perpetrate domestic abuse against young people, but in cases where the survivor is under 16, this may be categorised as child abuse, and different rules and processes apply.

I think I'm experiencing abuse, but I'm not sure

Domestic abuse perpetrated against young LGBTQ+ people takes many forms, just as it does with older people. The abuse may include violence, threats, intimidation, sexual assault, shaming and a number of other forms.

What sometimes distinguishes domestic abuse against young people from that of older adults is the relationship in which that abuse happens. It may come from a parent, a guardian, or a sibling. In these relationships there is often an established power dynamic, especially in the case of parents of guardians, who are trusted figures, and therefore already have a significant degree of control and influence.

If you’re being abused by someone it could take the form of:

  • Shaming you or using your sexuality or gender identity as leverage
  • Conversion therapy
  • Homophobia / transphobia / biphobia
  • Verbal abuse and insults
  • Physical violence (hitting, slapping, burning, pushing)
  • Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation
  • Forced marriage
  • Controlling behaviour 

For more information about the different forms of domestic violence and abuse check out our fact sheet.

I want to leave, who can help?

If you want to leave and are a young person, then getting advice on your specific situation could be useful. You can contact AKT, the LGBTQ+ homelessness charity via webchat here.

When leaving home and seeking accommodation, you’ll have to make a homelessness application to a county / borough council. They are required to provide you with interim accommodation if you tell them that you’re experiencing domestic abuse, and for this period no proof of the abuse is required. If you’re experiencing domestic abuse then you are legally homeless.

You can find the website of your local council here.

If your abuser lives is in a specific area then you can make your application to any council and they can’t send you back to that area. Your case should also be prioritised as this is procedure with domestic violence cases. You can’t be turned away or denied support, as a UK citizen they are obliged to help you.

If you’re not a UK citizen then different rules may apply, as there are immigration restrictions around homeless people getting help from local councils. If you’re not a British citizen then you should seek advice before applying to the council

The council may then conduct inquiries in order to establish that you’ve been experiencing domestic abuse. 

How can charities help me?

AKT which supports LGBTQ+ people aged 16-25 who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. 

AKT can help you to:

  • Stay safe
  • Provide support and advocacy to find emergency accommodation
  • Access specialist support 
  • Develop skills, identify and achieve life goals

You can make a referral to AKT using the online form on this page.

You can also consider applying for refuge via charities such as Refuge, Respect, or Shelter.

I've never left home before and I'm scared

It’s only natural to be worried and anxious if you’ve never lived away from home and you’re unsure what the future holds. Understanding the process can help, as well as getting support from people outside your household.

16 or 17 year olds will go through a child-in-need assessment and the relevant authorities will determine how your care will change until you turn 18.

Receiving trusted advice, and reaching out to organisations that exist to help young LGBTQ+ people can make you feel reassured and more secure. It’s also easier than ever to remain in contact with people that you know and trust, should it be safe to do so. It’s a big step but it doesn’t necessarily have to mean leaving behind everything you’ve ever known.

If you ever need a friendly person to speak to, then you can always call Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ helpline, where someone will gladly talk with you about your situation.