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Read our latest newsletter: February 2017.

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"From its unique vantage point as the statewide coalition, JDI helps us all connect the dots between policy, practice and services and strengthens our work in the communities we serve." ~ Linda Cavaioli, Executive Director, YWCA of Central Massachusetts

Massachusetts Activists Echo Recommendations outlined in NCAVP Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence Report.

For Immediate Release: 19 October 2016
 

Massachusetts Activists Echo Recommendations outlined in NCAVP Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence Report.

Isolation, lack of public awareness, and discrimination create challenges for survivors seeking support from their communities and IPV service providers

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has released their annual LGBTQ and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence report which highlights the unique barriers faced by LGBTQ and HIV-Affected survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). The report looks at the experiences of 1,976 survivors of IPV who reported to 17 member organizations across the country.

In 2015 there were 13 LGBTQ and HIV-Affected IPV related homicides. Due to the invisibility of LGBTQ relationships the number of reported homicides does not accurately represent the total number of LGBTQ IPV homicides that occur. This discrepancy is due to a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity not accurately being portrayed and honored in media or police reports. Transgender folks are often misgendered and misnamed and LGBTQ relationships are often misidentified in media and police accounts as friendships or other relationships. The majority of the reported IPV related homicides were people of color (77%). Of the total 13 homicides, six victims were transgender women, four were cisgender men, and three were cisgender women. In terms of age, eight of the victims were 25 years old and younger, 4 were between the age of 33 and 39, with the youngest victim at 17 years old and the oldest victim at 46 years old.

The report highlights the types of abuse survivors experienced and the unique barriers faced by survivors of color as well as those HIV-Affected, undocumented, and living with a disability. The report found that the most common types of abuse reported by survivors were physical violence (20%), verbal harassment (18%), and threats and intimidation (13%). Other types of violence reported include isolation (8%), online or telephone harassment (7%), stalking (5%), sexual violence (4%) and financial or economic abuse (4%). Of those survivors who attempted to access emergency shelter, 44% were denied. The most commonly reported reason that survivors were denied shelter was barriers related to gender identity (71%), highlighting the negative consequences of gender-segregated emergency shelter options for LGBTQ survivors.

“What this report tells me is that not only do we need culturally specific as well as culturally competent services for LGBTQ survivors but also increased awareness, dialogue and readiness to respond by those closest to survivors,“says Sabrina Santiago, Co-Executive Director at The Network/La Red, an organization dedicated to ending partner abuse in LGBTQ communities. She goes on to say, “We know that most survivors will go to friends and family members long before calling the police or a domestic violence program”.

In the 2013 survey conducted by TOD@S Community VoicesA Community Needs Assessment & Action Plan about Partner Abuse & Services in Black and Latin@ LGBTQ Communities in the Greater Boston Area, respondents were asked who they would talk to if they were experiencing partner abuse in their relationship. 76.5% of respondents said that they would at least consider telling a family member if they were experiencing partner abuse in their relationship. An even higher percentage of respondents (96%) indicated that they would at least consider telling a friend, with a majority of those respondents saying that they would definitely tell a friend. When asked what would prevent them from seeking support services if they were experiencing partner abuse, responses were mixed: over 50% of all respondents identified discrimination, fear and distrust of law enforcement, stigma, lack of cultural understanding, and concerns about confidentiality as key factors that would impede them from seeking the support that they needed.

In Hamphire County, a series of interviews and survey conducted by Safe Passage in 2014 looked at how LGBTQ people build safety and seek help when they are experiencing intimate partner abuse. The domestic violence agency found that to stay safe from intimate partner abuse, a person needs to have three things: social support from friends or family, financial resources, and a sense of control over their own actions. People are more likely to seek help and feel safe then these factors are in place. “These results show us that outreach, with an emphasis on educating the entire community on recognizing the signs of intimate partner violence, and on developing skills for speaking up, is of utmost importance,” says Winters.

The Network/La Red and Safe Passage, both members of Jane Doe Inc. (the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence), are leading examples of how communities are seeking solutions to the alarming rates of violence experienced by LGBTQ people.  With community education survivors feel supported in general and specifically in ways that can prevent the escalation of violence that can lead to IPV-related homicide. The recent verdict in the Cara Rintala case in Northampton, Massachusetts, illustrates the importance of community education. Coverage of this trial brought to light a history of restraining orders that were taken out by both partners. While it is important to remember that IPV is never mutual, the presence of the restraining orders suggests IPV as a factor in the relationship. “Partner abuse is about power and control and who gets to make decisions in the relationship,” says Santiago. “We know that survivors will use physical violence in self-defense to regain control over their own decisions and actions. Unfortunately, the courts may not always take the time to get the context of these actions and award a restraining order to the abusive partner.”

While it is important for the NCAVP report to be used by researchers, policy makers, and service providers to address the many barriers services and systems create for LGBTQ survivors often experience when trying to access supportive resources, advocates see this as an opportunity to spark conversation within LGBTQ and HIV affected communities. As the report states, “This report is a call to LGBTQ people and their allies to reach out to loved ones in their lives who may be experiencing violence, so that no one feels isolated and alone, and that we all might offer our support when survivors need it most.”As Tre’Andre Valentine from The Network/La Red says, “We must protect, uplift, and center those within LGBTQ communities who have been traditionally isolated and shamed for their identities and experiences. It’s only with their voices at the center that we can truly begin the work of ending intimate partner violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people across the country.”

 

Contacts:
  • The Network/La Red, Sabrina Santiago, ed.oeo@tnlr.org, 857-990-3087
  • Safe Passage, Marianne Winters, marianne@safepassage.org, 413-586-1125
  • Jane Doe Inc., Toni Troop, TTroop@janedoe.org, 617-212-7571

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