Comparison of Beginning Counselors' Responses to Lesbian vs. Heterosexual Partner Abuse

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This study compared responses of masters and doctoral level counseling students to two domestic violence scenarios. Participants read a two paragraph description of a battering incident involving either a heterosexual or lesbian couple and then gave their impressions via a series of open and closed ended questions. Scenarios were identical save the manipulation of sexual partner as same or opposite sex. Experience and/or education with battered and/or gay/lesbian clients is also examined. Results indicated that subjects perceived the heterosexual battering incident as more violent than the lesbian battering incident and would be more likely to charge the male batterer than the female batterer with assault. Differences in treatment recommendations were made according to sexual orientation of the victim. Less than half of the respondents had coursework or practical experience pertaining to domestic violence and/or gay/lesbian concerns.

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