Violence occurs in relationships between two women at a similar rate to relationships between women and men.

For lesbians/wahine takatapuhi, there are patterns of power and control in an abusive relationship just as there are in heterosexual relationships, but they can feel worse because of the hatred and fear of homosexuality that is expressed by others in society, and even internalised by lesbians themselves.

Our services for you

Many Women’s Refuges have wahine takatapuhi/lesbian/queer women who are trained advocates. You can ask to speak to these women when you ring our Crisisline on 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843. If they’re not immediately available, they will return your call as soon as possible.

You can make a time for a face-to-face meeting if you prefer, and if a lesbian/queer worker is not available you can contact the refuge in a neighbouring town.

In a Women’s Refuge safe house, where you can stay if you need to while you make your own choices, you will usually have your own room. Some refuges run support groups for women who have experienced violence. These are usually mixed groups, but there are some in Aotearoa that are for lesbians only.

If you think that your partner may try to access our services as well, tell your Women’s Refuge advocate. We can make sure that she will not find out if you’re in the safe house.

What can professionals working with lesbians experiencing violence do?

  • Never assume that a woman’s partner or abuser is a male.
  • Make your workspace a safe place with literature and posters that support lesbians and celebrate different sexual orientations.
  • If possible, have specialist workers to work with wahine takatapuhi/lesbian/ queer/bisexual women who use your services.
  • Challenge your own homophobia.
  • Be aware that the Domestic Violence Act does cover same sex relationships, including for Protection Orders and education programmes.


Over the years wahine takatapuhi/lesbians have made a major contribution to the establishment of Women’s Refuges. As a result, Women’s Refuge has an affirmative policy regarding lesbian visibility. Local Women’s Refuges encourage the participation of wahine takatapuhi/ lesbians so there is support when needed.