There’s no Pride in Domestic Violence
Eleanor Broadbent is one of five LGBT Community Hub Reps and a Trustee at Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL – the Rape Crisis Centre for women and girls in Leeds).
Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, non-binary and queer people have a tough time accessing health services at the best of times, but what about when their lives are endangered by an abusive partner or family member? A recent event facilitated by Leeds City Council’s Domestic Violence Breakthrough Project in partnership with the LGBT Community Hub attempted to answer that question – with support from committed professionals and people from the LGBT community, including survivors on Wednesday night.
There is a shared motivation to improve our Domestic Violence services for LGBT+ people in Leeds and now is the time to start making that happen so that we can be a truly inclusive and compassionate city.
We know that LGBT+ communities face significant and specific barriers because of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in society, as well as sexism and racism. We also know that we are just as likely (and sometimes more likely) to experience abuse and violence as straight people - but our services haven’t always acknowledged or understood this. LGBT people experience violence from people they know, including family members who try to punish or “correct” their sexuality or gender identity by abusing them. Sexual violence can also be experienced by LGBT people as a Hate Crime – and this raises important questions about how services can best support us.
We must adopt a definition of “domestic violence” that is inclusive and holistic. It isn’t just something that happens in a relationship, between a man and a woman, at home, or as a one-off incident. Its real. Its complex. But it’s also preventable and there is only one person who is responsible: the perpetrator. It can be coercive, emotional, financial and physical - and it rarely occurs without sexual violence or harassment of some kind. That’s why we need to have a robust understanding of rape, sexual violence and exploitation too (something that a lot of people don’t want to talk about).
We can’t just be reactive to the abuse that we know is perpetrated against us – we must also work together to stop it from happening in the first place. This meeting was the first step to help us do that and everybody has a contribution to make.