June is LGBT Pride Month and TCFV is highlighting the importance of recognizing and supporting LGBT victims and survivors of domestic violence. One in four people in a same-sex relationship will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, a similar rate to women in heterosexual relationships. Tragically, five Texans who identified as LGBT were murdered by abusive current or ex-partners in 2015. These individuals came from diverse regions of Texas, including El Paso, Austin, Marietta, and Tyler.
Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people don’t seek help from family violence programs. Our social attitudes – about gender, about sexuality, and about violence – can be very real, significant barriers to making sure that everyone has access to safe services. And while intimate partner violence in LGBT relationships has many similarities to violence in heterosexual relationships, there are some key differences that significantly impact the way survivors get help.
- The abuser’s goal is power, dominance and control.
- Abuse can continue even after one partner leaves and is common.
- Abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse.
- Under-reporting is common.
- Seeking help can mean coming out.
- Seeking help can mean outing a partner.
- The abuser can use homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia as additional tools for abuse.
- The abuse can wrongly be perceived as mutual.
- Legal remedies, resources, and support structures may be limited.
What You Can Do:
Everyone has a role to play in promoting safe and healthy relationships. The most important thing you can do to help? Stand up against homophobia and transphobia wherever you see it. Homophobia and transphobia hurt everyone, but discrimination can be life-threatening for the most vulnerable among us, including survivors of domestic violence. By calling out homophobia and transphobia wherever you see it, you can help change our culture so that survivors can get help when they need it.
TCFV’s LGBT Stakeholder Group works to advocate for the inclusion of LGBT voices in the work to end violence and to advocate for the needs of LGBT survivors. Currently, the Stakeholder Group is working to research and analyze the intimate partner murders of LGBT Texans.
Here are some tips you can use to make space for LGBT victims of domestic violence:
- Use gender-neutral language when possible – In some contexts, it can be helpful to acknowledge that women are the majority of victims and men are the majority of offenders, but unless you have a specific reason to use gendered language, try using gender neutral language to be more inclusive.
- Use mirroring language for sexual and gender identification – Mirroring language means using the same terms as the person you are speaking with, including pronouns, sexual identification, and gender identification. If you aren’t sure what words to use, ask.
- Make connections within your local community – Make a point of reaching out to local organizations in your community that support LGBT folks. Prevention and outreach events are good opportunities to build community connections.
- Educate yourself about the issues – Take the time to learn about LGBT issues. The more you know, the more good you can do.
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