LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day
Today is Australia’s inaugural LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day, a new initiative to address domestic violence within LGBTIQ relationships.
The Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) and Meridian (formerly the AIDS Action Council) are working in partnership to promote the day and draw awareness of the occurrence of domestic and family violence within the LGBTIQA+ community.
As a peer-led health service embedded in LGBTIQ+ communities, Meridian (formerly AIDS Action Council) sees the impact of domestic and family violence on LGBTIQ+ people, families, and communities. We also notice the silence that surrounds the issue. We notice it when LGBTIQ+ people, relationships, and families are not included in domestic and family violence prevention and response efforts. And we notice it when we don’t call out violence within our own communities. It’s time to break the silence. Today, Meridian is partnering with the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) to shine the spotlight on domestic and family violence within LGBTIQ+ relationships and families.
Domestic and family violence deeply harms our communities, and it’s taking a significant toll on our health and wellbeing. Domestic violence is as common in LGBTIQ+ relationships as it is in heteronormative/cis-gender relationships. While there are many similarities in the patterns of violence, there are also many differences that need to be acknowledged and addressed. In LGBTIQ+ relationships, partners often weaponise homo/bi/transphobia and heterosexism to gain power and control over their partner. This can include threats of outing someone and pressure to conform to gender norms. Additionally, domestic violence often forms part of a wider experience of violence that LGBTIQ+ people are subjected to across their lifespan. This violence can be perpetrated by family members, through relationships, and by communities and broader societal institutions.
Many LGBTIQ+ people experience violence from their parents, carers, and other family members when growing up. This can include verbal, physical, and psychological abuse, and it often starts at a very early age. For some, it can even start at birth. People born with intersex variations are commonly subjected to medical interventions in infancy or childhood that violate their bodily autonomy. These harmful interventions are done for the sole purpose of making bodies conform to social norms related to sex and gender, and they often cause physical and psychological harm. While these interventions are increasingly recognised as a violation of a person’s bodily autonomy, they continue to take place.
Ben Bjarnesen's Story - End LGBTIQ Domestic and Family Violence
Ben Bjarnesen talks about his experience with domestic and family violence.
The process of coming out to family members can be dangerous for LGBTIQ+ people, with many being subjected to violence, including the psychological violence of being disowned or excluded from the family on the basis of their sex, sexuality, or gender identity. For trans people, this can include denying their gender identity and pressuring or threatening them to conform to gender expectations. Families can also restrict or threaten to restrict access to medical treatment, including hormones and medications.
Older LGBTIQ+ people also experience family violence related to their sexual orientation, sex characteristics, and gender identity in care settings. This violence includes the denial of a person’s sexuality and sex or gender identity, refusal to allow same sex couples to share a room, and forcing a trans person into a room that doesn’t match their gender. This violence can occur in addition to other forms of physical and psychological violence experienced in care settings.
The fear and reality of facing discrimination when accessing services can compound LGBTIQ+ people’s experiences of violence. It can prevent LGBTIQ+ people from seeking help, which further silences the issue.
The level of violence and abuse our communities endure may seem daunting, and it should. But it’s also preventable. LGBTIQ+ communities are resilient. HIV is one of the greatest health challenges of our time, but we’ve faced it together and become stronger as a result. Community is our strength. We can prevent violence in our communities if we come together, name it, and address it, just as we do with other issues that impact the health and wellbeing of our communities.
Meridian is here to support our communities to prevent violence and access crisis services. We advocate for and drive community-based research to understand the experiences and needs of both LGBTIQ+ people experiencing violence and those who perpetrate and perpetuate it. We create awareness and visibility of the issue and the impact it has on the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ people and communities. We deliver and support violence prevention programs that promote respectful relationships and rights-based approaches to medical care. And we strengthen the capacity of domestic and family violence crisis services to provide LGBTIQ+ inclusive services.
We will also continue to strengthen our partnerships with violence prevention and crisis services to ensure our communities have access to programs and services that are founded on the experiences and needs of LGBTIQ+ people.
The inaugural LGBTIQA+ Domestic Violence Awareness Day is being held on 28 May to raise awareness of the impact of domestic and family violence on members of LGBTIQA+ communities. Add your voice to the conversation, today and every day, by using the hashtag #ImHereForYou.
DV SUPPORT SERVICES
Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS)
- Crisis intervention line: 6280 0900 (24/7)
- SMS: 0421 268 492
- Online chat
- Confidential contact form
Meridian (formerly AIDS Action Council)
- 6257 2855 (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm)
- 0412 882 855
A Gender Agenda
- 6162 1924
Women’s Legal Centre ACT
- Confidential Advice Line: 1800 634 669 (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm)