Drive to cut LGBTQ domestic violence and abuse
LGBTQ people were yesterday urged to seek help if they became victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence at the hands of partners.
Laurie Shiell, executive director of the Centre Against Abuse said studies had shown that LGBTQ people suffered disproportionate levels of violence and sex abuse in relationships.
Ms Shiell explained that an average of 42.05 per cent of LGBTQ people had suffered sexual abuse from a partner – about 10 per cent more than their straight counterparts.
She added: “These statistics are absolutely alarming and they as a community deserve to be treated with dignity and live without fear, regardless of who they are in a relationship with.”
Ms Shiell said her charity had joined forces with gay rights group OutBermuda to highlight the problem.
She added: “We are extremely appreciative of the educational support that OutBermuda has offered to us.
“This training will strengthen our services to the LGBTQI+ community and will assist with the reduction of domestic violence in Bermuda.
“All of our services are non-judgemental and we want people within the LGBTQI+ community to understand that the Centre Against Abuse will always be a safe space no matter who you are.”
The two groups launched the campaign to coincide with October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month and LGBTQI+ History Month.
The US Centres For Disease Control and Prevention reported in their 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey that 61.1 per cent of bisexual women experienced rape, physical violence or were stalked by a partner at some point.
The study also showed that 43.8 per cent of lesbians suffered similar abuse, compared to 35 per cent of straight women.
The survey also found that 37.3 per cent of bisexual men had been victims of abuse, compared to 29 per cent of straight men and 26 per cent of gay men.
Ms Shiell said that abusers in relationships with a closeted LGBTQ partner often threatened to “out” their partners to colleagues or loved ones.
She added that the threats were often used to prevent a victim from leaving their abuser or seeking assistance.
Ms Shiell added: “It is important to note that abusive partners in LGBTQI+ relationships utilise the same behaviours to gain and maintain power and control in their relationships as heterosexual abusers.
“These behaviours include physical, financial, sexual and emotional abuse, as well as isolation and harassment to name a few.”
Adrian Hartnett-Beasley, the chairman of OutBermuda, said that “coming out” was stressful because it could lead to a backlash from family and others and even violence.
He added that “outing“ someone was a serious invasion of privacy and could cause huge harm.
Mr Hartnett-Beasley said: “The thought of someone else blurting it out and outing you before you’re ready can be like any other situation where there is information about you personally that you are not ready to share with other people.”
He added that he would organise workshops for the Centre Against Abuse and other charities to show them how to approach problems that affected LGBTQ people.
He also appealed to LGBTQ victims of domestic abuse to contact the centre for help.
Mr Hartnett-Beasley said: “It’s one of the few areas where we can funnel money to support organisations that are offering services that are helpful to our community – the Centre Against Abuse is one of those organisations.
“It’s imperative that our community knows that these resources are available to them and that they are safe spaces.”