Violence & the LGBT Community

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violence in the LGBT community at the Midwest
Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference.
The workshop discussed the topic of sexual and dating
violence in the LGBT community. The other facilitator
and I were joking about whether or not anyone would
even show up for the workshop, because we got the popular
time slot of 8:30 am on Sunday morning, and let’s face
it—who wants to discuss violence at 8:30 in the morning?
However, we were pleasantly surprised when people
started to show up, and eventually the room filled up! We
started off the discussion by introducing ourselves, and
encouraged others to do the same. What happened next
made a huge impression on me. One by one, people in the
room disclosed that they had been victims of same-sex
sexual violence. Of course I knew that same-sex sexual
violence occurs, but to hear people open up in a large
group is another thing entirely. I felt inspired by the
courage of people to disclose. It also made me think again
about the lack of LGBT specific resources and the barriers
encountered when seeking information or help.
Violence, for anyone can be a difficult topic to discuss,
especially if you know a survivor or are one yourself. Sexual
and domestic violence does happen within the LGBT
community, but often it remains hidden. Unfortunately,
there are few statistics that document how often this kind
of violence occurs. However, it is thought that domestic
violence occurs about as frequently within LGBT relationships,
as it does within heterosexual ones.
Although violence can happen to anyone regardless of
race, class, gender, or sexual orientation, there are additional
barriers that LGBT people face when discussing sexual
and domestic violence. These barriers include stigmas
about LGBT people and their relationships, homophobia
both from others and internally, the smallness of communities,
fear of being outed, and a lack of services and
resources that address their issues.
As someone who has been involved with violence prevention
and awareness, I have found that there are several
important things that need to be addressed regarding
sexual and domestic violence within the LGBT community.
First, there must be a focus and recognition that sexual
and domestic violence within the LGBT population
does happen, and it needs to be addressed differently
than it is in the larger heterosexual community. Although
the foundations of the discussion are the same (violence
is about power and control, etc.), the context in which it
occurs is unique. One cannot simply change a pronoun
when discussing sexual and domestic violence within the
LGBT population.
Secondly, there needs to be a space to accomplish this
discussion. The space needs to be accessible to LGBT people,
meaning that it is safe, accepting, and free of homophobia.
Making these spaces and resources available not
only allows LGBT survivors to disclose and heal, but also
can prompt the community to have discussions about how
to hold perpetrators accountable and provide them services
as well. Through recognition and discussion about
LGBT sexual and domestic violence, LGBT communities
can help each other to create a space to empower survivors,
hold perpetrators accountable, and initiate healing
and prevention within LGBT communities for all afflicted.

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