Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Not Just Rihanna and Chris Brown ... LGBT Domestic Violence

When it comes to domestic violence in the LGBT community in NC, these are the headlines you see ....

Getting help is hard for gay domestic violence victims, Winston-Salem Journal, September 17, 2008

Domestic protection lacking for same-sex couples, Durham Herald-Sun, March 20, 2007

Domestic Violence is when two people get into an intimate relationship and one person uses a pattern of coercion and control against the other person during the relationship and/or after the relationship has terminated. It often includes physical, sexual, emotional, or economic abuse.

Any violence taking place within a family or intimate relationship is domestic violence. It includes abuse of spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends, children, and elderly people. Domestic violence cuts across all socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, religious, and age groups.

While members of both the gay and straight communities can obtain domestic violence protective orders against partners if the pair shares a residence, gay couples who do not live together are not entitled to the same protections (according to Chapter 50 of the N.C. General Statutes).

(Inequity for gay folks - what else is new? Equality NC is working with the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence to change this law.)

In addition to legal barriers, if a gay person isn't out to their family, they won't turn to them for assistance. And LGBT people have the added stigma resulting from societal gender stereotypes. Plus many domestic-violence programs may not be suited for victims in same-sex relationships (e.g., a man in a same-sex relationship might not be able to stay at a shelter, which in many cases is for women and children).

However, there are still some good domestic violence resources out there for LGBT folks. In the summer of 2003, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV) began a new initiative aimed at addressing domestic violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships. The initiative, Project Rainbow Net (RPN), is a grassroots effort based on the insight of an advisory council made up of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have an understanding of domestic violence in LGBT relationships and a desire to end it.

Here are some great information links from them:

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Federal, state, and community organizations for violence prevention and victim services, businesses, health care providers, and others do educational programs, have recognition and memorial ceremonies, and perform community outreach.

According to the NCCADV, the rate of domestic violence within LGBT relationships is the same as in straight relationships. There are always options and choices when it comes to domestic violence, whether it's for yourself or a friend or family member.

Education and communication are always the first steps in making things better.

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