By Emily Moreton
When we think of domestic violence and abuse, we usually think of women being abused by their male partners. It’s what we mostly see: on TV, in the news, in books and research, which makes sense, since the majority of victims and survivors of domestic abuse are women abused by their male partners.
It’s not the whole story though: domestic abuse can also be directed at men by their female partners, within same sex relationships, and within relationships where one or both partners don’t necessarily identify as male or female. In fact, domestic violence and abuse happens at about the same rate in same sex relationships as it does in different sex relationships. There’s a lot less research and awareness about this group, however, and as a result, lots of people abused by same sex partners either don’t identify the experience as abuse, or don’t know where they can go to get help with what’s happening. Research suggests that, mostly, they go to family and friends, to GPs, and sometimes to the police; very few go to specialist domestic violence agencies.
Right now though, there are two projects in Bristol looking at how to better support LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and other) people who’ve experienced domestic abuse.
The first is a joint project between the Diversity Trust and Next Link Housing, funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner through Safer Bristol. Over a period of about a year, the project ran training courses for domestic violence workers in how to support LGBT+ victims and survivors, reviewed services’ policies and procedures, and ran focus groups with survivors, all focused on improving experiences for this group of survivors. The whole project culminated in the release of a lengthy report, with recommendations for how services can best support this group. The launch event is on 9th March 2016, and open to everyone; more information is available here.
The second project is a research study by a PhD student (me, in fact) at the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at the University of Bristol. I’m looking specifically at the experiences of women abused by female partners, again, with a view to guiding services in how best to support this group. I’m also looking at how same sex violence can fit within the current definition of domestic violence, as something that happens because of male power and control. A little like the project above, I’ve been talking to professionals about this, and now I’m keen to talk to any women who were in unhealthy or abusive relationships about how they would have wanted to be supported, via an online one-hour focus group. If you’re interested, please contact me at email@example.com.
So, you’ve read about the two projects, and you’re keen to make sure your service is doing the best it can to support LGBT+ victims and survivors. Taken from the two projects, here are five top tips:
For more information about LGBT+ domestic violence, or support if you’re worried or afraid in your own relationship, contact Broken Rainbow.