Anyone who follows my blog will know that I like to look at the big picture when it comes to Domestic Violence (DV). I believe, whist looking for ways to prevent this corrosive issue we need to be inclusive. Because by being inclusive we are all looking for a solution together. It was with this inclusive attitude that I started researching DV in the LGBTIQ community. I admit I went into this looking for the differences but what I discovered were the similarities.
I have wanted to write this article for a long time and more importantly include the correct information in my Domestic Violence Awareness Programs for corporate. So when I was invited to hear Dawn Hough of pride in diversity speak at Scentre Group I took the opportunity to discuss this issue with her. I soon realised although they had the same issue with DV they had others issues on top of it to deal with. I realised that there was a great deal I didn’t understand so I was grateful for the information provided by ACON to help me understand.
The first thing I needed to understand was the terminology because if I was to have a hope of understanding the impact of DV in this community I needed a better understanding of the community itself. I admit to being unsure what LGBTIQ meant, although this is not a definitive list it is the most commonly used:
L Lesbian G Gay B Bisexual T Transgender I Intersexed Q Queer
Let’s start with the similarities; power and control is at the root of DV and this is no different in this community. Although there is limited data LGBTIQ people are as likely as non-LGBTIQ women to be victims of DV, that equates to 1 in 3. According to a submission to the Royal Commission done by Dr Phelomena Horsley; the rates of abuse were similar 32.7% of LGBTIQ Australians reported having been in a relationship where the partner was abusive. The impacts of domestic and family violence and trauma are equitable as is the fear that you won’t be believed. Victim blaming or self-blaming, which is a debilitating element of DV that is universal. Impacts of a good/bad response (being believed, connecting with support services that are strengths-based and culturally appropriate, etc.)
The differences for lesbian, gay and bisexual people is using someone’s sexuality against them, threatening to “out” someone, cutting them off from community events, as a survivor I find difficult to comprehend the fear of being outed as I struggled with people finding out I was being abused. The transgender, intersex and gender diverse may be subjected to their partners threatening to “out” their gender history. They will be subjected to partners using offensive pronouns such as “it”, ridiculing their partner’s body/appearance/identity, telling their partner that he or she is not a “real” man or woman A so imagine the effect it must have if this is not the case and you already have to deal with societies judgement of who you are as a person.
LBGTIQ people who are in a DV relationship can expect to endure all the things I was subjected to in my abusive relationship. But, and it is a big BUT they don’t have heterosexual, cis-gendered privilege. People who have this privilege are not usually aware of it. I know I wasn’t until DV forced me into poverty and I lost part of mine, Although once it was gone the absence of it was something I felt acutely.
Diversity and Inclusiveness needs to be a factor in domestic violence awareness programs and policy creation and this needs to extend to LGBTIQ employees A company that fosters a diverse, inclusive and supportive work environment will have a positive impact on not only individuals but company culture as a whole.
Thanks and acknowledgement to Kai Nonoon for her time and informal advice in writing this blog.