The LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advisor) is our service in partnership with the LGBT Foundation which specifically works with LGBT+ people who are experiencing domestic abuse. Domestic abuse can take many forms including coercive control, physical, financial, sexual and emotional abuse. There can be additional factors that can make it more difficult for somebody who is LGBT+ to seek support for domestic abuse. This can include, being threatened to be outed to family, friends or work colleagues. It can include using your gender identity or sexual orientation as a method of control.
Domestic abuse isn’t well recognised in the LGBT community – There hasn’t been much information or discussion in the LGBT communities about domestic abuse. Most information on domestic abuse relates to experiences of heterosexual women. This lack of understanding means that some people may not:
- Believe it happens in LGBT relationships.
- Recognise their experience as domestic abuse if it does happen to them.
- Know how to respond if they see domestic abuse being experienced by their friends.
Encouraging Disclosure It can be hard for LGBT domestic abuse victims/survivors to seek help because they may not want to disclose their sexuality to police or other organisations. Because of the general homophobia and transphobia in modern societies, LGBT victims/survivors of partner violence may be concerned about giving gay and lesbian relationships a ‘bad name’ and may refuse to speak up about the abuse they’re suffering.
When people do seek help, police and other agencies may misunderstand the situation as a fight between two men or women rather than a abusive intimate relationship, and therefore LGBT people may be discouraged from disclosing if service providers use language which reflect heterosexual assumptions. For example, if it is a woman and she has not disclosed her partner’s sex, don’t ask about her boyfriend/husband or use the word ‘he’ in reference to her partner. If her abuser is a woman she may feel that she cannot disclose this or that it mustn’t count.
The Independent Choices IDVA will work with people to reduce the risk of further domestic abuse, this can include safety planning. It can also include also include support with housing, signposting to health and wellbeing services, support with attending court and reporting to the police if appropriate. We want LGBT communities to know that there is a service that understands their needs and to discuss options to be safer.