Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and questioning (LGBT*) people experience domestic abuse from partners, ex-partners, intimate contacts or family members. Although official statistics do not often reflect the level of need, there is now plenty of independent research that supports this view. From this research, we think we know what domestic abuse experienced by LGBT* people looks like. We definitely know that answering questions to an online survey about domestic abuse can bring up raw memories which can be painful and can be traumatizing. For this reason, we are only going to ask basic questions about your experience. The majority of our questions will focus on the details of those experiences, instead we aim to focus on what happened to you when (if) you reached out for help, support, advice or accommodation.
What is domestic abuse? As of April 1st 2013, the government defines domestic abuse as, “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.
Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”
This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.”
Further reading is available about how this definition applies to the survivors who identify as LGBT* is available here:
So why are we asking these questions? We want to learn from survivors of domestic abuse, what the lived experience of domestic violence is like, when trying to find help, support advice or accommodation. We want to hear about good practice. What organisations and services do well and what needs improvement. What types of experiences are dealt with well, what are dealt with poorly? We want to identify the barriers for getting help. We need to know where they exist and what the consequences are when survivors are faced with those barriers. We ask you to trust us with the truth.
But why are we really asking these questions? LGBT* people are diverse and different in many ways but the one thing we all deserve is equality, dignity and respect when we are most vulnerable. We hope this survey will find good examples of this happening but we have an inkling that all might not rosy, the other side of the rainbow.
The survey itself: The survey is broken up into four sections. The first, asks for brief details about what happened. The second, about when or if you decided to ask for help, support, advice or accommodation. The third, about the response you received. And the fourth, about how you identify yourself. The Equalities Act has given us legal protection and we want to find out if the law has been put into practice. Do some people who identify as LGBT* face additional hurdles when seeking help? These questions are also very important as they will help us identify any patterns of experience and any regional or social differences that might exist.
What happens to my information after this survey? The survey will close on the 25th August 2013. We will analyse the results and write a report that will be published as a PDF on our website. Based on what you tell us, that will make recommendations and send them to all service managers, funders and commissioners of new services that support LGBT survivors of domestic violence in theUK.
Confidentiality: We will not ask your name and any references to specific organisations or services will be changed to ensure your personal safety when we report on findings. We aim to get an overview of services available to survivors and a sense of shared experiences when seeking help. We live in a world of small communities and even smaller scenes; and with this in mind, we will change any specific locations mentioned by you in your comments that could identify you.
If you need help completing this survey: Please let us know if you need help to complete this survey. We are able to arrange phone interviews, interpreters, or post via email or post paper copies in large print.
Further involvement: There might also be an opportunity to take part in one-to-one interviews and focus groups. If you are interested in getting involved with this, please call or email to discuss these options. email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Maria on Tel: 0207 354 6316
Final words: We are unsurprised when some agencies tell us that they do not have clients who identify as LGB or T. Very few of us report domestic abuse to the police or other essential services. Last year only 0.6% of domestic abuse involving LGBT* people were referred to case conferences MARAC ( MARAC stands for multi-agency risk assessment conferences, where cases involving high risk survivors are given special attention). People who have not experienced domestic abuse often make value judgements about survivors? Why didn’t you leave? Why did you let yourself remain in an abusive situation? Why didn’t you tell someone? This is your chance to tell people about your experiences of trying to getting help.
It takes emotional strength to talk about domestic abuse. We know that to live in a world where heterosexual and cisgender identity is privileged also takes an inner strength. This expectation can take its toll on the long term health and wellbeing of LGBT* people. We use the word “survivor” as a recognition, that not all of us do survive domestic abuse. For those of us left and in a position to speak up, it’s time to start shouting.
This survey is LIVE