About the project

Queering Family Violence:
Violence against LGBTQI+ family members in the past and present societies

Our project, funded by Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (NOS-HS) aims at bringing together the studies of violence against LGBTQI+ people within the family in the past and present-day societies and revealing long-term patterns of violence within the family. By doing so, it explores varies ways to improve well-being of LGBTQI+ people and Nordic society in general. In furtherance of this goal, the project will analyse, discuss, and develop ideas for legal and social work guidelines for integration of queer well-being in Nordic welfare systems. Also, it will lay foundation for a larger research project on violence against LGBTQI+ people within the family in Northern Europe.

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We investigate violence not only in same-sex families but at families of various types, including heterosexual families. LGBTQI+ people have always been members of some families. Thus, our focus is on those families where queerness is part of the picture: whether it is a same-sex family, a family with queer children, or a heterosexual family where one of the parents comes out as gay.This perspective adds new reflection to the studies of violence: it brings in the queer aspect of family relationship. We also widen our focus and turn our attention not only to younger LGBTQI+ people but also to older ones. There is close to no research on IPV among older LGBTQI+ couples, although “[n]ot surprisingly, LGBT elders face the same types of abuse, violence and neglectful situations as their heterosexual counterparts; however, they encounter additional exploitation because of their sexual identity.” Research to date suggested that violence against older LGBTQI+ people usually occurs in institutional settings such as retirement homes. Queer elder abuse within the family or in home has not received any attention so far. Those older adults are abused at home by their caregivers who are mostly their children. Hence, research focus on social care and social work studies is important and will be explored in our workshops.

In studying elderly people, we expand our tasks by changing the focus from IPV to other forms of family violence, especially violence against parents. Within this project, we address these issues to start consolidating interdisciplinary research of violence at the intersection of queer sexuality and violence against LGBTQI+ family members. We look at dynamics of violence in families that include queer members, at existing prevention and intervention programmes in Nordic countries and beyond. We assess the prevalence of abuse, conceptualise queer family violence and highlight possible ways to improve public policy and social services regarding well-being.

Violence against LGBTQI+ family members has also raised wider issues of citizenship, migration and identity. Cultural and political constructs of LGBTQI+ identities are often a premise for family abuse, especially when children come out. This aspect has received some attention due to so called ‘honour-related violence’ in the Nordic context. Being queer makes people migrate to escape family violence as well as social and political violence. Our project seeks to expand geographical boundaries of LGBTQI+ families’ research. The series of workshops proposed by our project will both generate research questions and agenda for further studies, and will start the conversation by offering first contributions on these understudied topics in Nordic and European contexts.

Our research initiative will help in establishing more complex explanations for intrafamily violence and provide policy makers, researchers and practitioners with better and more grounded knowledge on the roots, origins and causes of violence against LGBTQI+ family members.

The project aims at organising three multidisciplinary workshops to bring together studies of violence against LGBTQI+ people within the family. By organising workshops where participants will present their multidisciplinary studies of queer family violence, we will initiate conversations in this emerging field of study. We will explore intersections of many systems of power, concentrating on that of age, gender and race. By focusing on the intersection between sexuality and age, we will expand our attention to social care and social work. The project will focus on the Nordic countries in the comparative perspective of world LGBTQI+ family violence research within the queer theory and family violence theories intersection.