Domestic Violence within our community

Awareness and community discussion about Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) has had a big year, with the most recent past Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, shining the spotlight on the gaps in our services and bringing the nation along on a conversation about the signs and consequences of unchecked violence within the home.

The LGBTIQ communities are not immune from the occurrence and consequences of FDV. Recent research by the Women’s Centre for Health Matters into the experiences of LGBTI people in relationships where they have experienced or are experiencing FDV, shows that in the ACT there are both service and knowledge gaps around violence in same-sex relationships and 54% of respondents stated that they did not seek help at all. Some thought the stigma too great, others did not even recognise that FDV was occurring, while others thought they would not be believed as most services seem geared toward heterosexual relationships.

Of the remaining respondents who sought help, almost 40% stated that the support received was very unhelpful or somewhat unhelpful. Clearly we need to do some work on how we can open the pathways to services for LGBTIQ people experiencing FDV in their relationships. Learning to recognise FDV is an important step and there are certain signs which indicate whether a relationship is healthy or unhealthy.

Healthy and safe relationships are where both partners are able to be themselves and feel comfortable being in the company of the other person. Regardless of the form that the relationship takes, both partners feel like they have a voice and are listened too and communication is open and honest. In safe relationships you feel free to say no to things, have time that is for yourself without your partner, and spend time with family and friends without repercussions.

This project requires community members with experience of FDV, either as a survivor or support person, to assist in the development of LGBTIQ culturally appropriate online printable resources and materials. Its goal is to raise awareness within our communities about  FDV; what it looks like, what they can do and where they can seek support.  It also aims to develop a series of online printable resources and materials for ACT services (domestic violence, crisis services and mainstream services) which informs the community of the services that are LGBTIQ specific. The intention is that these resources and materials will be clear about a services’ inclusivity and accessibility to LGBTIQ clients.

If you want to participate in the development of either resource then contact the Project Worker, Jill Scanlon, at the Women’s Centre for Health matters on 6290 2166. The voices of all community members are important and we must remember that the issue of FDV within the LGBTIQ community cuts across gender and so the experiences of lesbians, gay men, transgender men and women, gender fluid, and intersex people are sought to strengthen and diversify the information and resources for the community.

PDF : Transforming domestic violence support in the ACT

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