Incorporating LGBTQ Victims’ Needs into Mainstream Victim Services
Robin Parker, Sharon Stapel  -  2013/6/5
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
How do you negotiate the role of the male-female gender binary while discussing Intimate-Partner Violence (IPV) with trans and gender non-conforming communities? Much of my experience is in violence against women, so I am familiar with a feminist understanding of IPV. My issue concerns merging feminist, women's rights-based anti-violence work with LGBTQ terminology and understandings of gender.
 
1.  Susan
 I wanted to add another way of thinking about this: while IPV has often been framed as an issue of male entitlement/privilege/power, IPV can flow along any lines of social entitlement/privilege/power. Many strands of feminism have stances against all forms of oppression within their frameworks, so viewing IPV as occurring across any power differential could fit within a feminist framework.
 
2.  Sharon Stapel
 PART III: For an article about why language matters when working with LGBTQ survivors, see: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/12/19/op-ed-violence-against-women-act-and-why-language-matters. For tips on language to use when working with LGBTQ survivors, see here: http://avp.org/storage/documents/TrainingຈandຈTAຈCenter/AVP_Tips_for_Creating_Dialogue_with_LGBTQ_Clients.pdf
 
3.  Sharon Stapel
 PART II: For people who do identify along a binary, this question will surprise them, but you should ask everyone any way. After that a question about “what is your preferred gender pronoun” (which could include he, she or them, or some other gender neutral pronoun) is helpful – and then remember to use that pronoun! The same questions can be asked of the person’s partner (“What is your partner’s preferred gender pronoun,” etc.) so that you are using the language the survivor is most comfortable with.
 
4.  Sharon Stapel
 PART I: This is a great question! Generally it helps to start with gender neutral language like “partner” or “spouse” instead of “boyfriend/girlfriend” or “husband/wife” in all of the documents and conversations you have with all survivors. Once staff are in the habit of using gender neutral language, they are already messaging that they understand that people may not identify themselves or their partners in a specifically gendered way. Next, it’s important to ask people “how do you identify your gender identity.”
 
 
Can you talk a bit about violence against LGBTQ individuals in the campus/university community? For example, sexual harassment, dating violence, and misogynistic/rape culture standards are common on college campuses, for example at parties and in greek life. How do these forces affect LGBTQ students specifically?
 
1.  Sharon Stapel
 For training and technical assistance, you can also contact: the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs' National LGBTQ Training and Technical Assistance Center by phone, email or AIM: Toll-free warmline: 1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging AIM: AVPlgbt E-mail: info@ncavp.org
 
2.  Julia McGinley
 Laura asked about training. I don't know where she is located but The Lavender Umbrella Project provides training and technical assistance to all DV/SA projects across the state of Iowa in meeting the needs of LGBT survivors. We are a brand new organization. If Laura is located anywhere near Iowa, we'd be happy to discuss helping her out.
 
3.  Laura Hoge
 You mention the importance of training, and I'm curious to know if there are agencies set up already to deliver this service to law enforcement, domestic violence resources, etc.
 
4.  Robin Parker
 Thanks for asking this question. The culture of violence against LGBTQ people on campus setting seems to track that in the larger society. Some typical problems include (1) male victims of sexual violence are not taken seriously, (2) intimate partner violence between same-sex couples is not addressed with the same seriousness as different-sex intimate partner violence, (3) and campus police and social service agencies are generally ill-equipped to handle the needs of LGBTQ survivors. As you might imagine, that general cultural backdrop may be worsened in campus settings where LGBTQ students can be particularly isolated. Training of campus police and social service agencies is vital to make needed change. Indeed, whole campus culture change is most needed.
 
 
What are the best resources for monolingual Spanish Speaking survivors from this community?
 
1.  Sharon Stapel
 It depends on where you are in the country and what kind of resources you need. Generally, it helps to go to a local LGBT-specific anti-violence program. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs is a coalition of these programs and you can find those programs here: http://avp.org/storage/documents/2013.3_ncavp_memberlist.pdf. Many of these programs have Spanish speaking staff and volunteers. If you have a more specific request, feel free to post another question!
 
 
I would like to hear your thoughts specifically regarding the special needs of LGBTQ Victims when it comes to housing. How should gendered housing be handled? Are there special privacy considerations?
 
1.  Sharon Stapel
 PART II: There are no privacy considerations that don’t exist for other survivors already being housed, and privacy should be extended to all residents in the same way. However, there may be privacy concerns for the transgender or gender non-conforming person, or an LGB person in shelter, in that inappropriate questions may be asked to determine gender identity or sexual orientation. These questions (particularly about transgender and gender non-conforming people) may arise from other residents or staff that can be addressed through training and education to address whatever bias or misinformation staff or residents may have about LGBT people. For more information about making shelters LGBTQ inclusive, see http://tnlr.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Open_Minds_Open_Doors.pdf
 
2.  Sharon Stapel
 PART 1: Now that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), our nation’s response to domestic and sexual violence, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, this question is a timely one! VAWA funds many domestic violence shelters. While VAWA implementation is currently underway and we are awaiting OVW’s determination of how gendered housing should be used, it is our recommendation that housing that has private spaces (e.g., separate bedrooms) should be gender neutral and provided to both cisgender (non-transgender) people and transgender people alike (and, in fact, to those who do not identify along a binary and may consider themselves to be genderqueer or along a gender spectrum).
 
 
Colleges and university have reporting obligations for SA/DDV/Stalking, and acts of discrimination/harassment/bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression (depending on state) that are often in conflict with the victim's decision to report. What are some practical steps for university officials to be able offer meaningful and inclusive support, while honoring these reporting mandates that are triggered by almost any disclosure that involves sexual orientation or gender identity/expression?
 
1.  Robin Parker
 As a victim advocate I believe that honoring confidentiality is paramount, and in all but exceptional circumstances (child abuse, putting others in danger) it should be honored. My fist suggestion would be to work hard to change policies, if possible, that are conflicting with confidentiality. If that isn't possible, I think it is vital to endeavor to tell the person you're serving ahead of time about the reporting requirement so they have the option of disclosure/participation at a meaningful time.
 
 
As a member of this community I have seen first hand a sort of role bias victims exhibit. In my attempt to explain that there is no difference, abuse is abuse, one "stud" addressed the issue in this way..."I know she is a femme and if I wanted to I could have over-powered her." This, as she was showing me black and blue marks all over her body. How can I be more effective in communicating ABUSE IS ABUSE in the LGBTQ communities especially where masculine/feminine roles have been identified?
 
1.  Sharon Stapel
 PART II: Your question also made me think about the distinction between dominance and submission (or BDSM, kink, etc.) and violence. BDSM is consensual, agreed upon, pre-determined engagement of two people. Abuse is non-consensual. Here's a great resource on the difference: http://avp.org/storage/documents/TrainingຈandຈTAຈCenter/TNLR_SM_vs_Abuse_for_Community.pdf
 
2.  Michelle
 When I hear questions like that while counseling, facilitating or otherwise I reiterate the fact that domestic violence is about power and control; not who is bigger or stronger. Some people have this need or desire to be that controlling person (be it through physical abuse or other tactics) in the relationship. For some reason, equality is not an option.
 
3.  Sharon Stapel
 PART I: You raise an important question about how we recognize violence in our relationships and in our communities. Many LGBTQ people don't think that domestic or intimate partner violence is a problem in our communities. There are many resources about how to talk about this violence, such as: http://avp.org/storage/documents/TrainingຈandຈTAຈCenter/2010_TNLR_Partner_Abuse_Handout_for_Community.pdf and http://avp.org/storage/documents/TrainingຈandຈTAຈCenter/2011_TNLR_IPV_Brochure.pdf.
 
 
Attempting to get all staff comfortable with LGBT person. They seem to be very nervous about what to say or do regardless of how much training I provide.
 
1.  Shanika Hester
 That is probably true more often then any would admit. We can say a victim is a victim, however the staff's understanding of difference matters. I find many interject their personal beliefs. Disregarding their jobs and responsibilities.
 
2.  Robin Parker
 Thanks for your question. Please be careful with how you look at the issue of staff members being "comfortable" with an LGBTQ person. Remember that such discomfort is not the problem of the LGBTQ person, but that of the other staff, and it is generally helpful that leadership poses the issue as such. That helps ensure that the LGBTQ person is made to be the "odd ball" that everyone studies. I would strongly suggest that training for your staff is a must, and that such training should be ongoing and comprehensive. Otherwise it won't be effective.
 
3.  Sharon Stapel
 If you have specific questions about how your program can best be LGBT-inclusive, please contact the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs’ National LGBTQ Training and Technical Assistance Center through phone, email or AIM: Toll-free warmline: 1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging AIM: AVPlgbt E-mail: info@ncavp.org
 
 
What has proven to be most helpful for victims? What are some simple steps we can take to help them.
 
1.  Sharon Stapel
 Much of this depends on what a survivor needs. The first thing you can do is listen and believe. The next is ask them what kind of support they would like and help them with that support. If you want specifics about a personal situation, you can call an LGBT anti-violence organization near you: http://avp.org/storage/documents/2013.3_ncavp_memberlist.pdf. If you are a service provider and need technical assistance, you can reach out to the NCAVP National LGBTQ Training and Technical Assistance Center at Toll-free warmline: 1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging AIM: AVPlgbt E-mail: info@ncavp.org
 
 
I am a Christian and Domestic Violence advocate. How can I advocate for LGBTQ victims without going against my religion?
 
1.  Strong
 Dont let your faith get in the way of supporting somebody. The LGBTQ need our support as well as anybody else. I am a Christian and I also strongly support the LGBTQ Community, faith is in your heart and spirit, we are to love all God children, and never judge.
 
2.  Sherry Rhodes
 Perhaps it would help to think about the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus talks of helping your neighbor, and the response a Christian should have to someone in need. People who are members of the LGBTQ community are just that - people, and if they come to you for assistance should not be turned away. Christ calls us to reach out to those that are hurting, right? Your compassion will speak volumes about you and our God that you serve. INMHO anyway.
 
3.  Robin Parker
 Thanks for your question. I want to suggest that your question often comes up, but needs to be reframed. We cannot and should not discriminate against LGBTQ people for any reason—religious or otherwise. I think that while it is important to respect religious views, those views cannot trump and should not trump the duty to treat LGBTQ people with the same respect and duty for fervent advocacy as we would non-LGBTQ people.
 
4.  Faye Rees
 As a Christian would not the basic tenet of "love thy neighbor" assist you? See the person as a person, one of God's creations, and not the label, and tend to that person's needs as did Jesus the leper.
 
 
Can you address the particular power dynamic that can exist in an intimate partner relationship between a cis-gendered person and a trans or gender non-conforming person when the trans/gnc partner is subject to abuse because of their trans status, and how that particular issue can be addressed in the context of mainstream victims services?
 
1.  Sharon Stapel
 PART III: For more information and resources, here is a handout for transgender survivors of violence: http://avp.org/storage/documents/TrainingຈandຈTAຈCenter/2011_FORGE_Trans_DV_SA_Resource_Sheet.pdf. If you need to speak to someone, please contact a local LGBT anti-violence program: http://avp.org/storage/documents/2013.3_ncavp_memberlist.pdf To get technical assistance as a service provider, contact NCAVP's National LGBTQ Training and Technical Assistance Center: Toll-free warmline: 1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging AIM: AVPlgbt E-mail: info@ncavp.org
 
2.  Sharon Stapel
 PART II: Cisgender abusive partners may exert control over transgender and gender non-conforming people by withholding hormones, telling their partner they are not a "real" woman, man, genderqueer person, threatening to out them to their employees or landords or families as transgender (especially dangerous when many states do not have protections against discrimination based on gender idenity). (Here's an LGBTQ power and control wheel that has more examples of how control and power can be used in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity: http://avp.org/storage/documents/TrainingຈandຈTAຈCenter/2000_AVP_IPV_Wheel.pdf.)
 
3.  Sharon Stapel
 PART I: This is a great question because it allows us to look at the privileges that cisgender (non-transgender) people hold in this society. Some of those privileges are listed in this fact sheet: http://avp.org/storage/documents/TrainingຈandຈTAຈCenter/KCAVP_Privileges_Held_by_Non-Trans_People.pdf. Intimate partner violence is about power and control by one partner over the other. Cisgende rpartners may be able to use transphobia, and transphobic institutional responses(such as shelters that refuse to accept transgender survivors, or hostile medical providers who are not culturally competent in working with transgender people) to further control their transgender partner.
 
 
I would like to ask about the type of training that will be expected of VAWA grantees. Are there agencies/organizations already set up to address this? If so, do you know of any?
 
1.  Robin Parker
 In addition to what Sharon offered, I believe that OVW may be offering additional "technical assistance" providers to help VAWA grantees address LGBTQ issues. I think that the such offerings may be available after October 1, 2014—check directly with OVW. Additionally, my organization, the Beyond Diversity Resource Center, may be of assistance in guiding you to additional resources. Please feel free to contact us at 856 235-2664.
 
2.  Sharon Stapel
 OVW funds a National LGBTQ Training and Technical Assistance Center, run by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which you can access through phone, email and AIM: Toll-free warmline: 1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging AIM: AVPlgbt E-mail: info@ncavp.org OVW can tell you best about their expectations for trainings, but in the meantime you can reach out to the LGBTQ TTA Center!
 
 
Aside from language/terminology and conveying a welcoming environment for LGBTQ clients, what other suggestions do you have for incorporating LGBTQ victims' needs into mainstream services?
 
1.  Sharon Stapel
 PART II: This is just a start - there is so much that a mainstream organization can do! For technical assistance about these and other matters, you can reach out to NCAVP's National LGBTQ Training and Technical Assistance Center by phone, email or AIM: Toll-free warmline: 1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging AIM: AVPlgbt E-mail: info@ncavp.org
 
2.  Sharon Stapel
 PART I: This is an important question because as you point out LGBT cultural competency goes beyond just language and visual cues that an organization is LGBT-friendly. It's important that the organization's policies and procedures reflect LGBT inclusion; that the intake forms and all documentation is gender neutral; that outreach is done specifically and in a culturally competent way to LGBT communities; and that relationships are built and maintained with LGBT-specific organizations.
 
 
Many of our shelters are older buildings and projects have very few resources for renovation/remodeling. The sticking point in creating inclusive spaces often seems to be the "bathroom issue." Can you discuss some ways in which multi-person bathrooms can be modified (low cost) or policies written to ensure everyone feels safe in non-gender-specific bathrooms and showers?
 
1.  Lucas Cuellar
 This is such a practical and fundamental question, and makes a world of difference to the trans and gender non-conforming community! I recently participated in work to create a gender neutral multi-stall bathroom in a university setting. we found that extending the stall walls and doors so that visibility is limited was a relatively simple and inexpensive step to making people feel more comfortable. Similar modifications could be done in a multi-stall showers. Also, hanging curtians for privacy in dressing after a shower.
 
2.  Sharon Stapel
 There are many ways in which shelters can work with residents and staff to address making bathrooms gender neutral and increasing everyone's knowledge and comfort level with this. This process can be dependent on where the shelter is with their overall policies and procedures regarding LGBT inclusion, and to get specific technical assistance I'd suggest you reach out to NCAVP's National LGBTQ Training and Technical Assistance Center by phone, email or AIM: Toll-free warmline: 1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging AIM: AVPlgbt E-mail: info@ncavp.org
 
 
What advice do you have for advocates who might be the only person within their organization that have LGBT inclusion as a priority? What suggestions do you have for them to initiate change from the bottom up?
 
1.  Sharon Stapel
 PART II: This process can be lonely if you don't have allies, and if the above suggestions aren't practical, or if you want to strategize more, contact NCAVP's National LGBTQ Training and Technical Assistance Center by phone, email or AIM: Toll-free warmline: 1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging AIM: AVPlgbt E-mail: info@ncavp.org
 
2.  Sharon Stapel
 PART I: This depends on the staffer's relationship to the organization and to those higher up, as well as on the different processes the organization has for creating change in the organization. Some thoughts are: have a learning lunch with your colleagues to see if you can get buy-in; bring model policies and procedures to discuss with a supervisor or during a staff meeting; reach out to LGBT organizations in the area to build a relationship and support for the change; engage survivors and community members in as many of these processes as possible to determine what they want and need. You can also suggest training and technical assistance.
 
 
How is education of LGBTQ sexual assault viewed in the public schooling system at the high school level? Is this something that I have the freedom to discuss openly or where does the public education system stand on this?
 
1.  Robin Parker
 Part 2: Because your question is important, but involves the sub-issue of your district's willingness to address issues of human sexuality, I would suggest that you consult with others in your district about their willingness to move forward. I would also suggest that because the issue is critical, you should work with other ally educators in your district in advocating for discussion of the topic. Most success comes from a coalition of persons working together.
 
2.  Robin Parker
 Part 1: Unfortunately, most public schools do not offer comprehensive educational modules on sexual assault in general or sexual assault concerning LGBTQ victims specifically. Of course, the ability to talk about LGBTQ victims of sexual assault is tied to an openness and willingness to talk about gender identity and sexual orientation more broadly, and that varies from state to state and district to district.
 
 
What are some steps that law enforcement can take to encourage more reporting from LGTBQ victims and survivors, specifically regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, etc? How can law enforcement agencies create a safer space for LGBTQ victims within their departments?
 
1.  Robin Parker
 Part 2: We have also found that setting up protocols for better meeting the needs of LGBTQ victims (using intake forms that are inclusive, not assuming that victims have heterosexual relationships by default, collecting information on transgender status and sexual orientation, etc.) goes a long way to help line officers meet the challenge of better service. Finally, it is important to look at change as a long-term organizational development process, not as a quick fix/instant change.
 
2.  Robin Parker
 Part 1: Especially for law enforcement agencies, tone-setting from the leadership is vital. Policies that advocate for the fair treatment of LGBTQ victims are important, but they should be coupled with formal training on LGBTQ issues and informal discussions/talks/roundtables from the leadership about their stance on advocating for the LGBTQ community.
 
 
Our agency recently began a program to provide a queer-identified advocate for emotional support upon request of the service user. Some concerns around this are that perhaps other advocates at our agency are viewed as not supportive/unable to provide advocacy for queer survivors. Do you have ideas or messaging around this that might be helpful? Is there research on best practices for agencies wishing to provide services to queer identified survivors that feel safe or within community?
 
1.  Sharon Stapel
 PART IV: As I said in the last question, this process can be lonely if you don't have allies, and if the above suggestions aren't practical, or if you want to strategize more, contact NCAVP's National LGBTQ Training and Technical Assistance Center by phone, email or AIM: Toll-free warmline: 1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging AIM: AVPlgbt E-mail: info@ncavp.org
 
2.  Sharon Stapel
 PART III: If the organization is doing all of these things above, it can be appropriate to have one position for is the “LGBT” subject matter expert. But this is an organizational commitment to a position, not just a person who happens to be expert in the matter. (Because when that person leaves, so does the program.) This means also supporting that person with good training, outreach, relationships, policies, etc. (Which is why the issues above are the first step in this process.)
 
3.  Sharon Stapel
 PART II: to provide training and technical assistance to ALL staff (and Board and community members if the program is member-informed); to make sure that everyone on staff uses gender neutral language in all circumstances, not just when they think that are talking to an LGBT person; to reach out to LGBT specific organizations in the area and build relationships; to do outreach that is appropriate and relevant to LGBT communities.
 
4.  Sharon Stapel
 PART I: This raises a really good point. It is difficult to be LGBT-inclusive if you have just the one advocate working on the issue. That doesn't mean having a subject matter expert advocate isn't helpful (more on that later) but the question first has to be whether the organization as a whole is LGBT-inclusive, culturally competent and accessible. To determine that, the organization has to look at its policies and procedures to see if they are gendered and/or exclude LGBT staff and survivor needs; the organization has to look at every intake form, brochure, handout to see if it represents LGBT people's experiences among all survivors' experiences; (CONT)
 
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