October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and across the country, long-needed discussions about identifying and preventing intimate partner violence (IPV) are taking place. Unfortunately, the national discourse around IPV is overwhelmingly framed as an issue of heterosexual, cisgender partnerships, and does not address the reality that IPV is a serious LGBT issue. LGB partner abuse is rarely acknowledged by mainstream press and research organizations, and abuse experienced by transgender or gender non-conforming individuals is completely ignored. This erasure of an entire segment of IPV survivors only serves to silence and re-victimize them.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has released its 2013 Report on Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States. The report explores IPV throughout the LGBT community, breaking down statistics by categories such as race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability status. Fenway Health’s Violence Recovery Program (VRP) contributed data to this year’s report.
Among the findings was the high rate of IPV experienced by trans-identified people, particularly trans women of color. This group was 1.6 times more likely to experience physical violence and 3.7 times more likely to experience discrimination within IPV. Additionally, transgender women were 5.2 times more likely to experience police violence when interacting with the police after an IPV incident.
“Transgender people across the country are disproportionately impacted by violence in intimate relationships compared non-transgender counterparts, a finding that is consistent in terms of the clients seen by the Violence Recovery Program,” said Cara Presley-Kimball, Manager of the Violence Recovery Program at Fenway. “Between 2012 and 2013, we saw an 11% increase in reports of intimate partner violence experienced by transgender clients. The growth in the number of transgender IPV reports is startling.”
Fenway Health is committed to ensuring that these communities have access to the support they so desperately need, said Presley-Kimball. “As documented in the NCAVP’s 2013 report, transgender people are 1.9 times more likely to experience physical violence in the context of abusive relationships,” she added. “With this stark reality in mind, and with more transgender people accessing health care at Fenway, the VRP will continue to prioritize outreach and services to transgender survivors, while offering education and information to the greater community to improve awareness and response to all survivors.”
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