By Sabia Prescott, EI blogger
Traditionally, Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been observed in October, as a time to shed light on the serious and often fatal issue of abuse and violence, typically by men against heterosexual women. While this topic continues to be relevant and important, the issue of intimate violence within LGBT relationships is even more common and less-frequently talked about. A National Violence Against Women survey conducted by the CDC (2010, 2013) shows that 21.5% of men and 35.4% of women living with a same-sex partner have experienced intimate-partner physical violence in their lifetimes, compared with 7.1% and 20.4% for men and women in heterosexual relationships.
This study and others of its kind disprove common myths that only women in heterosexual relationships are victims of abuse and that partner violence is not an LGBT issue. These false notions are often perpetuated by the media, both in news stories and in television and film representation. Beth Leventhal, Executive Director of The Network/La Red, says “Abuse is not about violence; it’s about control.” This need for control knows no gender or orientation. This issue is at the forefront of LGBT concerns beyond marriage equality, and its presence in the LGBT community is tangible.
Fortunately, there are many resources for those experiencing or witnessing domestic violence. The Network/La Red is a Boston-based social justice organization serving communities across the country to prevent intimate partner violence in LGBT relationships. They have published information about how to recognize violence and how to stop it. In addition, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a number of locations across Philadelphia offering services to those in need. Much scholarly work has been done on the subject, including the National Institute of Health’s Addressing Intimate Partner Violence in LGBT Patients, which is now a living document for use by the medical community.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE.