Break the silence: LGBTIQ Domestic Violence Conference
With a focus on service, policy and prevention, the annual LGBTIQ Domestic Violence Conference will guide leaders in the field in exploring solutions and reforms.
A member of the LGBTIQ Domestic Violence Conference Interagency Working Party said one of the main aims of the conference is to promote the work of LGBTIQ organisations and communities in the area of domestic and family violence (DFV). “The conference will draw attention to the key issues that LGBTIQ people face in terms of violence in the relationship/family/community context and to highlight the recent inclusion of LGBTIQ people and families in the NSW DFV Reforms.”
The conference will explore a number of barriers faced by the LGBTIQ community when it comes to domestic violence – such as the reluctance to report, identifying domestic violence behaviour, homophobia and its relationship to violence.
“LGBTIQ people face a number of barriers in identifying DFV in our relationships,” said the interagency working party member.
“We have few models of healthy LGBTIQ relationships and generally DV is seen as a heterosexual cisgender male perpetrator/female victim dynamic so it can be hard to identify the power and control... We also know that LGBTIQ people may have a fear that services won’t believe us or take it seriously.
“The NSW Government Reforms recognise that DFV occurs in all types of relationships – regardless of sexuality, intersex or gender and services can and should respond appropriately. This conference is about raising awareness in mainstream DFV services, addressing the stigma by making it everyone’s business to respond and showing that Police and government and LGBTIQ services do take it seriously and are willing to respond appropriately and understand the needs of LGBTIQ people.”
DFV is not just a victim’s problem the community has a responsibility to speak up to protect those at risk.
“We all have a responsibility to speak out and name it when we see abuse occurring in our friends’ relationships. We want to get the message across that it’s ok to ask and to offer support to friends. It’s hard to talk about DFV and sometimes our communities are not so good at talking about the violence that goes on in relationships or the bullying and violence that occurs in groups of friends.”
The conference will also reveal a snapshot of results from the 2012 DV study – the largest piece of research ever undertaken in the world on LGBTIQ DFV.
“We will be launching the findings and the full report before the end of the year but w can reveal there are some really interesting findings about the length of time that some LGBTIQ people stay in abusive relationships.”
Transphobia and homophobia can also present as domestic violence , the LGBTIQ DFV conference will identify ways to draw further attention to this in the wider community and how can we better support survivors.
“Transphobia and homophobia are often used as tools to control someone in a relationship and it can be really subtle so people don’t aware that it’s going on. Threatening to out someone’s sexuality, intersex or gender, restricting their access to hormones or medical treatment, pressuring someone to be'“more male' or 'more female', pressuring them to have surgery or wear makeup or dress in a particular way. All of these things might be part of a pattern of power and control in a relationship.
“We can support survivors in a number of ways – referral to specialist LGBTIQ services like the Anti-Violence Project (referral and support) and the Safe Relationships Project (court support).
We can also speak up as a community. The interagency spokesperson said DFV can take many forms but it is always abusive behaviour where one partner seeks to manipulate or control the other.
“It can be physical, sexual, social (preventing someone from having connections to their community or culture), financial, psychological. The way that it manifests can be similar or different to cisgender heterosexual relationships.
Since mainstream domestic violence campaigns don’t include LGBTIQ relationships and families, the spokesperson said a new approach was needed.
“We need community designed and driven campaigns and approaches because the mainstream campaigns don’t include images of LGBTIQ relationships and families. We need LGBTIQ communities to be equipped with the tools to talk about this.
“At a service response and prevention level it requires different strategies and approaches and education because the one size fits all approach is not appropriate.
The Second National LGBTIQ DV Conference is on September 19-20 at the NSW Teachers Federation, Surry Hills. More info: www.anothercloset.squarespace.com