The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released the Report on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence in the United States in 2009 on Tuesday, October 26. The report found that LGBTQ domestic/intimate partner violence reports rose 15% since 2008 and is a pervasive social problem at a time when LGBTQ-specific programs were losing staff or closing altogether due to the economic crisis. In 2009, NCAVP documented 6 murders related to LGBTQ domestic/intimate partner violence, representing a 50% rise since 2007.
The Anti-Violence Project at Center on Halsted is a member organization of NCAVP, and the only branch in the state of Illinois. “Member programs face sharp increases in calls from LGBTQ survivors, while sustaining 50% or more in cuts to staffing and program closures because of the financial crisis,” said Lisa Gilmore of the Center on Halsted Anti-Violence Project. “We know that LGBTQ survivors need specific and culturally competent services to stay safe, and our primary recommendation is that funding for LGBTQ-specific anti-violence programs is needed now more than ever.”
Center on Halsted has been able to keep its anti-violence program intact, and is unique in the depth of services it offers for victims of domestic violence. The Center operates a 24-hour, first-response crisis hotline, and victims can also access free mental health counseling and legal advice. The Center serves nearly 200 clients a year for issues related to violence.
Programs like AVP at The Center are especially critical now. According to the NCAVP report, LGBTQ survivors reported that from 2008 to 2009, there was a 99% increase in calls for police assistance, with a 135% increase in arrests being made; however during that same time, reports of misarrest were up 144%, and reports of police misconduct rose 74%. “NCAVP knows that the police are 10 to 15 times as likely to make a dual arrest in cases of same-sex domestic/intimate partner violence than in heterosexual ones,” said Kelly Clark at the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley’s Community Safety Program. “This report demonstrates the critical need for LGBTQ-specific cultural competency for first responders, such as law enforcement, to prevent re-traumatizing the survivor of violence.”
Policymakers and the public have the responsibility to support NCAVP member organizations in their work to foster survivor self-determination and safety, to eradicate LGBTQ domestic/intimate partner violence, and to end institutional discrimination against LGBTQ communities.
About the Anti-Violence Project and related efforts at Center on Halsted
The Anti-Violence Project offers both a 24-hour crisis line and counseling for victims of bias-motivated abuse. The Center also conducts trainings with educators, public officials, youth and parents, and advocates for the victims of hate violence in the court system. Mental Health services at Center on Halsted afford clients the opportunity to work with a counselor sensitive to the needs of LGBT clients. The Legal Program at Center on Halsted links victims and their families with legal resources, and the Center’s public advocacy efforts have demanded that our public officials pay serious attention to the nation’s bullying epidemic.