Challenges for LGBTQ Victims Seeking Assistance

 

LGBTQ domestic violence has not received the amount of attention or level of resources available to help the victims of heterosexual domestic violence.  As a result, when LGBTQ people decide to seek assistance they often face additional challenges locating services in their local areas. 

  1. Service providers may not know how to proceed.

  2. Legal protections are different.

  3. Barriers result in increased danger for LGBTQ victims.

 

 

1.  Service providers may not know how to proceed.

Even well-meaning services providers who wish to help LGBTQ victims often do not know how to proceed.  Many advocates and law enforcement personnel report difficulty and confusion in creating appropriate protocols to determine victim from batterer in abusive LGBTQ relationships.  Because of this gap in knowledge and skills, many service providers deny services to LGBTQ people or erroneously admit individuals for victim services who are ultimately found to be perpetrators.  Additionally, most domestic violence shelters specifically serve non-trans women, so men and trans people frequently do not have DV shelter as a safety resource. 

 

2.  Legal protections are different.

DV advocates may not be aware of the differences in legal protections (such as anti-discrimination ordinances, marriage or domestic partnership access, etc).  However, NYS Senate and Assembly passed a bill in June 2008 that grants access to civil orders of protection to LGBTQ people in abusive relationships.  Prior to the passage of this bill, civil (family) court orders of protections were only available to couples who were legally married or had a child in common. 

3.  Barriers result in increased danger for LGBTQ victims.

The result of these legal and service barriers is that LGBTQ people are often ignored, re-victimized or sent on a circular track by a system that is not equipped to help them.  Additionally, LGBTQ victims often choose to remain in dangerous abusive relationships longer than their heterosexual counterparts.