Trigger Warning: This article and pages it links to, contains information about domestic abuse, violence, sexual assault which may be triggering for survivors. Information on support organisations can be found towards the bottom or on our services page.
Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone, at any time and is any kind of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between people who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members. This includes abuse relating to gender identity or sexuality. Domestic abuse can take many forms including Psychological, Physical, Sexual, Financial and Emotional abuse.
Domestic abuse can and does happen in same sex relationships however research into the specific needs of LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse in the UK is somewhat lacking. So, what do we know?
We do know there is consistent evidence that hate crime relating to sexual orientation and gender identity remain a significant issue in England. The Home Office’ 2019 Hate Crime Statistics show a 25% increase in recorded hate crime on the basis of sexual orientation and a 37% increase on the basis on someone being, or being perceived to be, transgender when compared with the previous year.
We also know that we, as LGBT+ people, face additional challenges when compared with our heterosexual, cisgendered peers – having to deal with coming out, being comfortable with ourselves and finding trust worthy support. We know how hard it can be hard to open up.
For many people living with domestic abuse the first person they turn to is a friend or family member rather than domestic abuse services or agencies like the Police. But if we are not ‘out’ how do we (LGBT+ people) tell our friends and family that our same-sex partner is abusing us? How do we tell support services that we are being abused when we don’t know if they are trans-inclusive, or worse transphobic?
Domestic Abuse, Sexual Violence and Coronavirus
We know lockdown has affected us all in different ways – many in our community have reported increased loneliness, isolation and feeling cut off from support networks. Nationally, evidence is emerging from statutory and voluntary agencies across the UK that lockdown is increasing incidences of domestic abuse, with Refuge reporting a 25% cent increase in calls and online requests since the lockdown began in March 2020.
With the country under lockdown measures, it is also easy to assume a reduction in sexual violence, assault and rape. The Office of National Statistics show that 90% of sexual violence is committed by people known (partners, ex-partners, family, friends, acquaintances) to the survivors beforehand, compared with ‘stranger rape’.
Knowing this, our fear is that LGBT+ individuals may now, more than ever, be trapped at home with people who are abusing them. Feeling like there is nowhere to turn.
This has to stop. Help is available.
What Can I do to help?
If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic abuse report it via
Safe to Talk (0800 111 4998) – Coventry specific service
National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 200 0247)
National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans+ Domestic Abuse Helpline (0800 999 5428).
Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (024 7627 7777)
Be supportive of your family, friends, colleagues and co-workers and spot the signs of domestic violence.
Dagenham and Barking PCT have produced a range of resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, their family, and friends about domestic abuse. They give details on what abuse can look like for LGBT people, why it happens and how to keep safe. These guides were written in partnership with LGBT people and organisations who support them.
As a front-line worker:
Coventry City Council’s public health team are running a series of lunchtime webinars on a range of topics accessible by here. Public health training and webinar resources
The majority of Domestic Abuse support is provided by charities who would be greatful of any support, volunteers, donations.
Galop, an LGBT+ Antiviolence charity, are undertaking research into the impact of sexual violence on LGBT+ people across the country to understand what needs to change to ensure LGBT+ people get the support they want. Please support the research by completing the survey.
Our services page list a range of organisations that offer support, refuge, and accommodation to every member of the community suffering from domestic abuse or sexual violence.
For anyone living in Coventry the primary point of contact is Safe to Talk, Helpline: 0800 111 4998. After understanding your needs, they will work with partners such as Coventry Haven Women’s Aid, Panahghar, Relate, Valley House etc. to offer support and community services.
Coventry rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) is a registered Charity who provide trauma informed support and advocacy for anyone affected by sexual violence, at any time in their life. Their service is available to all and is non-discriminatory, this is a link to their LGBT page.
Galop are a registered charity who provide emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse and operate the National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline.
National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428.
(Monday to Friday 10:00am – 5:00pm, Wednesday to Thursday 10:00am – 8:00pm)
SafeLives – Free to be Safe LGBT+ People experiencing domestic abuse [September 2018]
A quick note of thanks goes to colleagues from Coventry City Council’s LGBT+ Employee network for contributions to this article.