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LGBTQ teens in abusive/invalidating households- What to do

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Aug 18, 2022

LGBTQ teens in abusive/invalidating households- What to do
  • All LGBTQ+ teens across our community deserve to feel supported and loved at home, as they navigate coming out at a younger age. But as we know, this unfortunately isn’t always the case. We often hear heartbreaking stories of LGBTQ+ teenagers facing rejection from family members, and finding themselves living in unsupportive or abusive households.

    Trans teens are even more likely to experience invalidation and transphobia from their families. In addition, an estimated 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+, many of which ended up homeless due to leaving abusive home environments.

    If you’re young and identify as LGBTQ+, living in an invalidating or abusive household, know that you are not alone. Keep reading for resources and actions you can take as an LGBTQ+ teen in an unsupportive environment.

    Negative effects of invalidating households

    Living in an invalidating household as an LGBTQ+ individual has serious consequences for one’s mental and physical health. According to a Human Rights Campaign study, over 1 in 4 LGBT youth say unaccepting family members are “the biggest problem in their lives”.

    According to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, LGBTQ+ individuals rejected by relatives are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide and nearly 6 times more likely to be depressed. Numbers like this are devastating and only go to show how far we still have to go as a society.

    The pandemic has also resulted in an increase of LGBTQ+ youth experiencing emotional and/or physical abuse in their households. Due to lockdowns and being stuck at home with parents and family members, many LGBTQ+ youth have been subjected to familial homophobia. Those unable to safely express their true gender and/or sexual identities at home are facing increased mental health effects.

    No child should be punished or ridiculed for simply being themselves. Being queer is a beautiful thing that you should be able to celebrate. You deserve to be surrounded by people who appreciate everything that makes you who you are. Know that if you are facing abusive or invalidating households, you are not alone. There are actions you can take to get to a better home environment, as well as many organizations out there dedicated to helping teens like you.

    What to do

    Leaving your household under the age of 18 can be tricky. Here are some steps you can take to legally remove yourself from an abusive home environment:

    • Keep track of any evidence. Evidence is key to getting legal assistance from an abusive household. Take any photos, videos, screenshots, etc. of evidence of neglect. This can also look like keeping a daily diary of your experiences.
    • Speak to a school counselor. Speaking to a counselor or an adult you trust can help safely start the process of leaving a troubled home.
    • File a report. If experiencing abuse, you can file a child abuse report by calling the National Child Abuse hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
    • Know your rights as an LGBTQ+ individual in the United States. 
    • Contact LGBTQ+ youth resources. We’ve listed resources below, as well as national help hotlines that can be contacted for LGBTQ+ youth assistance.
    • Note: If leaving abusive households, make sure to bring money, ID (can include school ID), any other legal documents, food, water, toiletries, and clothing. 

    If you believe you are in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1 or your local emergency services.

    If you are unable to leave your invalidating household, here are some tips for navigating this struggle:

    • Look to the resources below for LGBTQ+ youth. National hotlines are also listed below for immediate crisis assistance.
    • Find your community. Whether in person or online, finding your community of fellow LGBTQ+ people can be life-changing. 
    • Know that things will get better. No one should have to feel invalidated by their parents or family, but know that this will not last forever. When we become adults, we have the ability to give ourselves the care we’ve needed all along and find our people. 
    • Know you aren’t alone. There’s a whole world of queer people out there waiting to meet you and celebrate you for exactly who you are!

    Resources for LGBTQ+ Teens

    For more help as an LGBTQ+ teen in an invalidating or abusive environment, look to these resources below:

    Some telephone numbers:

    • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
    • The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
    • Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
    • LGBTQ+ National Hotline: (888) 843-4564
    • Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-(800) 273-8255

    Finding your community

    Having a support system as an LGBTQ+ individual is extremely important. Being surrounded by people who accept and uplift you is beneficial for your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Everyone deserves to have people who love and accept them for who they are, and sometimes our chosen family can do that more than those we share DNA with.

    There are many ways to connect with fellow LGBTQ+ folks, online and in-person. Some ways you can connect with people in the queer community include:

    • HER. Not only is HER is a dating app for connecting LGBTQ+ women and nonbinary folks, we also have a huge community space for advice and conversations outside of dating. Try out the Coming Out community for support and input from others on the challenges you are facing.
    • Facebook groups. Social media is a great tool to connect with people, especially for those in the LGBTQ+ community who may not have an abundance of queer people nearby. There are countless Facebook groups dedicated to connecting LGBTQ+ people. There are groups for every person under the queer umbrella to find their community, including pages created for transgender folks, nonbinary folks, LGBTQ+ youth, and more. 
    • Local events. Depending on your area, there may also be tons of fun, in-person events for the LGBTQ+ community to connect with each other. This can include drag events, group meet-ups, volunteer events, and more.
    • Volunteer. Volunteering for a local LGBTQ+ organization is a great way to build a support system in your area while giving back to the community.
    • Contact a local LGBTQ+ organization. There are hundreds of queer organizations and nonprofits out there dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ youth. If you’re in need of more resources, such as wanting to find a local community, they may be able to help.

    Learn more with HER

    HER is the dating app for connecting LGBTQ+ women, nonbinary, trans and gender non-conforming folks. You deserve to be surrounded by people who accept and love you for you. Download HER today to connect with queer folks in your area and find your people.

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    Katie is a writer and creative person based in Seattle who is passionate about the arts, environmental justice, and all things vintage fashion. She celebrates queerness as a natural yet radical state of being, and she strives to make the world a more inclusive place for all. You can find her taking meditative strolls in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest channeling her inner Bella Swan, or just on IG @ktmarieeee.

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