"Some of those barriers are very unintentional. They are service providers who are used to dealing with violence against women and have these very gendered ways of talking about the problem," Stapel said.
For instance, if a woman calls a domestic violence hot line, most hot lines will immediately divert to language specific to boyfriends or husbands. Stapel said there's no intent to discriminate or be insensitive, it's just an easy assumption because the majority of callers are females with male abusive partners. (According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 97% of its callers are female.)
At the same time, the assumption can be alienating.
"The first question makes them think, 'Oh, can I say that I'm a lesbian?' Or if a man calls, he is treated suspiciously because the presumption is that he's an abusive partner calling around looking for his wife or girlfriend," Stapel said. "The first response that men may have is 'Oh no, this might not be a friendly place for me to go.'"
Because of the new LGBT provisions, the law has been decried by anti-same-sex-marriage groups, including the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops.
"All persons must be protected from violence, but codifying the classifications 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' as contained in S. 47 is problematic," the bishops said. "These two classifications are unnecessary to establish the just protections due to all persons. They undermine the meaning and importance of sexual difference. They are unjustly exploited for purposes of marriage redefinition, and marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and with any children born from their union."
The Human Rights Campaign sees the reauthorization as a landmark achievement.
"One of the most amazing consequences is that not only did the Democratic-led Senate, but the House led by Republicans passed language that prevents discrimination," Cobb said.
The House passed the Senate's version of VAWA after the House GOP's version of the bill, which did not include protection for LGBT people, was defeated.
For domestic violence survivors like Dati, it's a welcome starting point in acknowledging and understanding the particular challenges of LGBT intimate partner violence.
"The gay community, my friends, supported me because LGBT domestic violence is very common -- at least in Chicago," Dati said. "The people that saw what I was going through were there when I needed them, but it took me going through the abuse first."
Dati ultimately filed a restraining order when his ex-boyfriend began stalking him at his mother's house while he recovered from his suicide attempt and other injuries.
While domestic violence in heterosexual relationships certainly isn't limited to physical abuse, Stapel said emotional abuse is a particularly powerful tactic in LGBT relationships.
"For example, threatening to out your partner to their boss when you live in a state with no employment nondiscrimination protection for being gay, that's a really powerful threat, no matter what size you are in proportion to your partner," Stapel said.
Stapel finds the isolation and rejection many LGBT people feel from their families and friends who may not have accepted their lifestyle can also play a major role in how they view their relationships with their partners.
As a way to control their partner, abusers might say things like: If you leave me, who else is going to love you? Who else is going to be there for you?
"It can really put someone who is already feeling insecure about their connections to people in a space where they feel really dependent on their abusive partner," said Stapel.
Dati, who turns 50 this month, said his experiences led him to become a public advocate against abuse and sexual violence to show that it does, indeed, get better. He has written a book about being a survivor titled "I Am Me."
"I don't want to see another person live the way I did," Dati said. "I went to hell and back and what I tell people now is, I'll never live with that kind of abuse again."