As we mark the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising this June — a month filled with protests demanding an end to police brutality against Black communities and uplifting Black Lives Matter — we recognize and honor the power of protest and organizing to create systemic social change. While this year’s Pride looks different than those of the past (Northampton Pride, normally held in early May, was canceled due to COVID-19 along with many celebrations across the country) there are still many ways in which communities are coming together virtually to stay connected and to celebrate Pride this month.
Survivors from the LGBTQ+ community experience higher rates of homelessness, inequitable access to healthcare, and face discrimination, bias, and violence from police. This is of particular concern while the world is suffering the effects of a global pandemic and the US is engaged in a large scale cultural moment of demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism. For example, the emergence of COVID-19 has created an atmosphere that creates additional risks to the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ survivors. Quarantine creates further isolation (a large factor in how abusive individuals maintain power and control) and many survivors have no option other than to shelter in place in a home that may not be safe due to abuse. LGBTQ+ individuals are also more likely to work in industries that are significantly impacted by COVID-19, meaning more exposure to the virus, economic impact, barriers to receiving care, and less access to paid leave.
While we celebrate recent victories in the movement for equality for LGBTQ+ people, it is imperative that we not lose sight of the work that remains to be done to ensure the safety, well-being, and rights of the LGBTQ+ community. In our work to support survivors of domestic violence, we know that LGBTQ+ survivors experience similar, if not higher rates, of domestic violence than straight and cisgender people. We also know that LGBTQ+ people who hold multiple identities (e.g., people of color, transgender and gender non-conforming people, people who are sex workers, people who have a disability, people who are HIV-affected, people who are undocumented) experience even more systemic and interpersonal vulnerabilities to abuse. And, the existence of additional barriers, such as higher rates of poverty and unemployment and less access to family support, have a further negative impact on the ability of LGBTQ+ survivors to access safety. The more marginalized identities that a survivor holds, the more numerous the barriers to safety and support become due to institutional and interpersonal forms of oppression such as racism, homo/bi/transphobia, and ableism.
This Pride month — and all year long — we are committed to supporting LGBTQ+ survivors in our community.
What you can do to support LGBTQ+ survivors:
Stay Connected! Check in on your friends, loved ones, and community members, especially if you know or are worried that they may be experiencing abuse. COVID is causing layers of isolation for survivors of domestic violence. Regularly reaching out to the people in your lives can give someone a lifeline if they need help.
Learn more about the experience of LGBTQ+ survivors. Seek out information that will help you understand the realities of domestic and sexual violence in the LGBTQ+ community, like The Revolution Starts at Home (follow the link for a PDF copy!) and Written on the Body: Letters from Trans and Non-Binary Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.
Know your resources. Learn about the options that exist to support survivors and LGBTQ+ individuals. Be prepared to offer information about how they might get help.
Do you, or someone you know, need support?
Stay connected with people you know and trust and who understand your situation.
Reach out to knowledgeable providers and community supports who can listen, affirm, and provide guidance. Many of these programs offer confidential hotlines and web chat that are available 24 hours a day for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
- Safe Passage: Safe Passage provides survivors of domestic violence and relationship abuse with the support and information to keep themselves and their children safe and rebuild their lives in the wake of domestic violence. Offering shelter, hotline, individual and group counseling, legal services, and community education and prevention in Hampshire County.
- NELCWIT: In addition to providing crisis intervention services, NELCWIT offers support for survivors who are recovering from recent or past incidents of domestic and sexual violence. Counselor/advocates meet with clients at offices in Greenfield and North Quabbin and at other safe locations in the Franklin County-North Quabbin area.
- Fenway Health Violence Recovery Program: Fenway Health’s Violence Recovery Program (VRP) provides counseling, support groups, advocacy, and referral services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and anti-LGBTQIA+ hate violence. VRP staff have specialized training and experience in working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQIA+) individuals.
- Survivor Arts Collective: Located in Easthampton, the Survivor Arts Collective offers peer-led, art-infused support groups, and peer to peer counseling for survivors of sexual and relationship violence and trauma.
- Elizabeth Freeman Center: Offers hope, help, and healing to all experiencing or affected by domestic and sexual violence through free, accessible, and confidential services in Berkshire County. LGBTQ services at Elizabeth Freeman Center are based on the belief that we all deserve to be safe – wherever we go, however we look, whoever we are.
- The Network/La Red: Based in Boston, The Network/La Red is a survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, SM, polyamorous, and queer communities.
- National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs for LGBTQ Communities Member Programs: A searchable collection of programs organized by state.