LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence still face discrimination when they ask for help

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence continue to face barriers when they seek help, including hostility from police and being turned away from shelters, according to The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects' annual report.


The report, LGBTQ and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence for 2015, was released today and found that 44% of survivors trying to access emergency shelters were turned away. Of those turned away, 71% said it was because of their gender identity. Of survivors who tried to report incidents of intimate partner violence to law enforcement, 25% said police were either indifferent or hostile and 31% said they themselves were mistakenly arrested when they tried to report that they had experienced abuse.

The report was based on surveys of 1,976 survivors of intimate partner violence at 17 NCAVP member organizations from 14 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Vermont.


These experiences with police are in line with data from the NCAVP's annual hate violence report released earlier this year, which found that the number of LGBTQ people reporting crimes to the police dropped from 54% in 2014 to 41% in 2015, and that 80% of those who did report to police were treated with hostility or indifference.

"I sought help from the local domestic violence shelter, but they could not guarantee my attacker would not enter the shelter. They had no protocol for LGBT anything. The last decade of my life would have been different if I had access to help. I didn’t need any special help just the same services offered to white, heterosexual women escaping from violence in their relationships," reads the account of one trans woman in the report, Sylvia (whose name was changed for anonymity).

Transgender survivors were three times more likely to report being stalked than cisgender survivors surveyed in the report, and trans women were three times more likely to report sexual violence and financial violence.

LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of color and transgender women were disproportionately affected by intimate partner violence, the report also found: 54% of survivors self-identified as people of color, including 24% of survivors who identified at Latinx and 21% who identified as black:

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

And of 13 intimate partner violence homicides of LGBTQ people recorded by the NCAVP in 2015, 10 were people of color, including six trans women of color.

These numbers probably underestimate the scope of the problem, according to the NCAVP. “We know that this number does not accurately represent the total number of IPV related homicides of LGBTQ people in the U.S.,” Beverly Tillery from the New York City Anti-Violence Project said in a statement.


Part of the challenge is that when LGBTQ people report intimate partner violence, they're often dealing with homophobic or transphobic attitudes from law enforcement and media that lead to the perpetrator, victim, or both, being misidentified.

“The lack of awareness and visibility in the media of LGBTQ victims of IPV contributes to this issue being ignored as a national problem," she said. "Transgender victims are frequently misgendered and misnamed in media reports, and the intimate partner relationships of same gender couples are often reduced to friendships in media accounts of these homicides.”

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