During October’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month especially, 180 Turning Lives Around calls upon our community to become informed about the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence within the LGBT+ community. In fact, this Thursday, October 11 marks the 30th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day. As a result of the 500,000 person March on Washington DC for Lesbian and Gay Rights 30 years ago, Coming Out Day was created by two activists, Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary. They realized that coming out is a basic tool for progress. The day encourages all LGBT+ people and their allies to stand proud of who they are and to fight for a more equal tomorrow.
We at 180, cultivate a safe, confidential, and empowering environment for the unique needs of LGBTQ+ victims of sexual and domestic violence. Through providing free supportive services including confidential 24/7 hotlines, trained advocates who assist victims by providing emotional support and resources, as well as a safe house, and a Family Justice Center, LGBT+ victims will be given the guidance and care they need. Often times LGBTQ+ people are afraid to come out for a variety of reasons. They may fear what employers, friends, family or their places of worship might think of who they are. People who are in abusive relationships find themselves further isolated. Abusers will use this fear to take power and control over their partners. Victims often feel at a loss as to where to go for help.
Abusive partners in LGBT+ relationships exhibit the same behaviors as abusive partners in heterosexual relationships – to gain and maintain power and control through physical, sexual, verbal abuse and/or financial control and isolation. However, in LGBT+ relationships, partners who abuse may exploit societal factors that compound the complex issues a survivor faces in making safety decisions or how to leave an abusive relationship. There are many barriers to reporting domestic violence and sexual violence that can include: a victim feeling like they are already under attack for their sexual orientation/sexual identity, threats of being outed, fear that their HIV status may be exposed, the belief that the abuse was their fault, fear of not being taken seriously or believed because of their sexuality, child custody/visitation issues and concern that providers are not informed of issues that are unique to the LGBT+ community. 180 advocates against this and all forms of oppression and we continuously look to build safety for all survivors.
180 Turning Lives Around is passionate about providing an extensive array of services for individuals affected by sexual and domestic violence, regardless of sexual identity, gender, or sexual orientation. Through on-going professional development, staying current on LGBT+ healthcare concerns, and conducting a continuous dialogue withLGBT+ community leaders, 180 cultivates a safe, confidential, and empowering environment for all victims of sexual and domestic violence.
I encourage you to visit our website to learn more about 180 and all of our programs and services. For more information on National Coming Out Day please visit: https://www.hrc.org/resources/national-coming-out-day Additionally, if you would like to learn even more, the Human Rights Campaign has excellent resources regarding violence in the LGBT+ community.
180 Turning Lives Around, Inc.