CHICAGO – Howard Brown Health has launched an innovative Sexual Harm Response Project called in.power* to better assist survivors of sexual assault in gaining access to needed medical, behavioral health, legal, and support services. The program is designed to serve all people who experience sexual harm inclusive of diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people.
in.power* is believed to be the first LGBTQ-specific sexual assault support program of its kind and the only resource in Illinois designed specifically for sexual and gender minorities.
“Survivors of sexual harm deserve supportive services that are trauma informed and accessible,” said Dr. Paige Leigh Baker, in.power* Sexual Harm Response Project Manager for Howard Brown Health. “With the generous commitment from our funders, support from organizational leadership, and the exceptional skill set of Howard Brown staff, in.power* is uniquely poised to provide affirming, holistic care for survivors. Howard Brown is proud to be able to offer this vital service to members of our community who have experienced sexual violence.”
Through in.power*, patients are eligible to receive free STI testing and treatment along with supportive services including case management, support groups, acupuncture, legal support, linkage to community resources, and survivor support.
in.power* seeks to effect community-level change by working to amend laws that discourage LGBTQ survivors from seeking care; through partnerships with established community stakeholders, in.power* implements professional trainings to improve system responses to LGBTQ survivors. Additionally, in.power* offers bystander trainings to staff at bars, restaurants, and universities in order to educate community members on how to proactively and reactively respond to sexual violence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) reports that one in eight lesbian women and nearly one in two (46%) bisexual women have been experienced sexual assault in their lifetime; 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men have experienced forced penetration by another person, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact, and/or non-contact unwanted sexual experiences.
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey (2011) reports that 64% of transgender people have experienced at least one sexual assault in their lifetime.
Discrimination against LGBTQ people in need of healthcare can be a barrier to seeking services. According to Lambda Legal (2010), as many as 56% of LGB patients reported discrimination/barriers to care based on sexual orientation, and 70% of transgender and gender nonconforming patients reported discrimination/barriers to care based on gender identity.
For decades, Howard Brown Health has reduced barriers to care and pioneered LGBTQ-inclusive programming. in.power* continues that tradition through a team that includes case managers and registered nurses dedicated to providing survivor-centered, LGBTQ competent care to both adults and young people.
via press release