Project tackles LGBT domestic abuse in Scotland

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On Thursday a pilot project which aims to tackle the problem of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people facing domestic abuse in Scotland will be launched.

The Scottish government is funding the project as part of its national strategy on domestic abuse.

There are at least 500,000 LGBT people living in Scotland. Approximately 1 in 4 of them will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, which parallels the experience of heterosexual women in Scotland.

A website has been created as a resource for all service providers supporting, working with or planning services for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse.

The project will also be piloting LGBT Domestic Abuse training in three areas of Scotland.

The goal is for every LGBT person experiencing domestic abuse to receive a good response, regardless of which service provider they access.

Domestic abuse can be perpetrated by partners or ex-partners and can include physical abuse, sexual abuse and mental and emotional abuse.

The new website highlights some aspects of domestic abuse unique to LGBT victims:

* Outing as a method of control – if an abused partner isn’t out to their family, friends and work colleagues, the abusive partner may use outing or the threat of outing as a method of control.

* Abuse associated with sexual orientation or gender identity – for many people, their sexual orientation or gender identity becomes associated with the abuse so that they blame the abuse on being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. So they may feel that “I am experiencing this abuse because I am LGB or T.

“If I wasn’t LGB or T, I wouldn’t be experiencing this. I hate being LGB or T.” This can therefore fuel feelings of internalised homo/bi/transphobia.

* Domestic abuse isn’t well recognised in the LGBT community – most information on domestic abuse relates to experiences of heterosexual women. This lack of understanding means that some people may not believe it happens in LGBT relationships, recognise their experience as domestic abuse if it does happen to them or know how to respond if they see domestic abuse being experienced by their friends.

* Confidentiality and isolation – LGBT communities are often hidden and can rely on friends and relationships as support within the local community, this is often compounded when living in smaller towns and rural areas and can make it difficult for the abused partner to seek help.

They may feel ashamed about the abuse, or their partner may have tried to turn others in the community against them. An abusive partner may isolate their partner from contact with the LGBT community by preventing them reading any LGBT papers/magazines etc or attending LGBT venues or events and preventing them seeing friends from within the community.

“There are certain unique aspects of domestic abuse that LGBT people may experience,” said Mhairi Logan, LGBT Domestic Abuse Project Manager.

“LGBT people may also experience fear of discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity when trying to access support.

“The LGBT Domestic Abuse Project will work with support service providers to provide information about and raise awareness of such specific issues.”

For more information click here.