Counselors' Perceptions of Intimate Partner Violence in Same-Sex Relationships: The Impact of Relationship Type, Gender, and Homonegativity

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of the study was to develop an understanding of how perceptions of same-sex relationships affect counselors'-in-training (CITs) identification of intimate partner violence. The researcher examined whether the sexual orientation of a client has an impact on CITs identification of violence, identification of victimization and perpetration and how homonegative attitudes shape perceptions of same-sex relationship violence. Data was collected via information questionnaires regarding demographic and professional background, experimental vignettes modified from Blasko, Winek, and Bieschke']s (2007) study, and the 10-item version of the Modern Homonegativity Scale (Morrison and Morrison, 2002; Morrison, Kenny, and Harrington, 2005). The sample included 203 master and doctoral students from CACREP-accredited counseling programs in the southern region of the United States.

The results indicated that most respondents were able to appropriately identify intimate partner violence. The levels of agreement regarding types of violence varied between vignette types. An ANOVA revealed significant differences between relationship type and identification of mutual violence, victim, and perpetrator. Respondents attributed more responsibility for the violence to female victims when the perpetrator was also female. Findings suggest that gender of the initiator (perpetrator) and non-initiator (victim) of violence may impact identification of violence more than sexual orientation. The results also suggest that respondents' homonegative attitudes impact perceptions of violence in same-sex relationships, particularly female partnerships. More research is needed on counselor response to relationship violence and sexual orientation. Exploring how beliefs in heteronormative gender-roles and homonegative attitudes impact perceptions of same-sex intimate partner violence among CITs is crucial for competent and ethical practitioners.



intimate partner violence, same-sex relationships, homonegativity, counselor-in-training, counselor education