In the month of June, we recognize Pride Month to
celebrate those in the LGBTQ+ community. In light of this awareness,
it is important to address the struggles these individuals may face if
they become victims of violent crime and how they can access
life-saving victim service resources when they need them most. Bisexual individuals are
eight times as likely and gay and lesbian individuals are two times
as likely to be victims of domestic violence than those who do
not identify as LGBTQ+; being aware of these struggles and learning
what you — providers, advocates, and allies — can do to help is key.
Accessibility to victim services is crucial for all people
who experience serious violent crime. But members of the LGBTQ+
community often lack assistance from these critical services for
often complicated reasons, and just like all people, they deserve
access to support, planning, and safety resources that are inclusive
It is estimated that roughly 5.4% of the U.S.
population identifies themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or
transgender. This small but growing population often finds that
resources catered specifically to LGBTQ+ needs are nearly
non-existent, making it difficult for victims of violent crime to seek
out assistance. The lack of LGBTQ+-friendly services coupled with LGBTQ+ victims often times
not having the knowledge about services or how to access them,
can keep these victims in unsafe situations with little options.
The reality is that even when LGBTQ+ victims seek out victim
services, they are sometimes met with discrimination by the people
they are supposed to trust in these difficult, high-stress situations.
The National Coalition of
Anti-Violence Programs released a report in 2016 that found
interactions with emergency shelters, medical staff, and law
enforcement were a major deterrent for LGBTQ+ victims in reporting
crime and seeking medical and other assistance. Here are some standout
statistics from that same report specific to the
27% of the total number of survivors attempted
to access emergency shelter — 44% were
denied. The most common reason they were denied
shelter was related to gender identity.
29% of respondents reported harassment by
police officers and 19% reported being
refused medical care because of their
gender nonconforming identity.
33% of survivors made a formal report to law
Kindness, care, and treating people how they deserve to be
treated goes a long way in helping victims of serious violent crime.
The long-term effects of being a victim in the first place are vast;
adding harassment and cruel treatment from people who are supposed to
protect and help is unfathomable. Victims deserve better. LGBTQ+
people deserve better.
Gender identity and sexual orientation that falls outside of
heteronormative social construct can often be difficult to navigate
for people in the LGBTQ+ community. When someone decides to openly
identify themselves as how they wish to be labeled, a decision known
as “coming out,” many people fear being judged, misunderstood, and
unaccepted. Individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ reserve the right to
choose the time and place and the people to whom they wish to disclose.
Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ victims of domestic violence and
violent crimes sometimes choose not to seek out victim crime services
for fear of being outed in the process. With suicide risks higher in
the LGBTQ+ community due to discrimination and violence, outing
can be a dangerous tool used by abusers to alienate and control LGBTQ+
victims, keeping them from getting the help that they need.
Rates of poverty in the
LGBTQ+ community are higher, and victims fear losing the housing
and financial support they may receive from their abuser. Victims can
easily find themselves without resources and without support to safely
leave an abusive relationship. Since many people in this marginalized
group lose close family relationships and support, victims are often
left to navigate their situation alone.
A nationally representative
study found that 39% of adults in the LGBTQ+ community reported
being rejected by friends or family members because of their gender
identity or sexual orientation, and 29% reported feeling unwelcome in
religious settings. Fear can be a driving force that makes looking for
and finding help nearly impossible, especially for those marginalized
by society for their gender identity and sexual orientation. The
emotional barriers faced by those in the LGBTQ+ community keep victims
silent and more vulnerable than ever before.
Instances of domestic violence are not exclusive to
heterosexual relationships and victims are not always women, anyone
can be a victim of domestic violence, and everyone — no matter your
gender or sexual orientation — deserves access to safe,
judgment-free victim services.
Here are some ways you can make a positive impact in the
lives of people in the LGBTQ+ community today:
Stand up for what is
right. There is enough hate and
discrimination in the world. Aspire to be kind to everyone
you meet, listen without judgment, and if you see unjust
behavior, say something! Be a true ally.
Learn and listen.
No one expects you to be an expert or to have all the
answers, but if you take some time to learn the terms you
don’t know or listen when someone asks you to use the
correct pronoun, you will help make people feel welcome and
safe. If you are a service provider,
seek classes specific to learning about the unique needs of the
LGBTQ+ community, so you can understand better and support
appropriately. Check out victim advocacy groups like EVAWI and NOVA for resources.
Donate. Consider giving to local and
national resources that work to advocate for the rights of people
in the LGBTQ+ community.
Accessibility to victim services should be for all people
regardless of race, disabilities, gender, or sexual orientation, and
the VINE solution helps to ensure all
victims have no-cost access to services and programs they need. VINE
offers a service provider directory that helps guide victims to local
help. Because VINE is the nation’s leading automated victim
notification system, victims and concerned citizens can rest assured
knowing that they are getting timely and trusted custody status
information, which helps make safety planning easier and gives victims
peace of mind.
Let’s do what we can to look out for those around us and
work toward making the world a better and safer place for us all.
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