LGBT+ domestic abuse victims are staying with perpetrators in lockdown because no refuge spaces are available

domestic abuse

LGBT+ victims of domestic abuse are being forced to stay with their perpetrators because no refuge spaces are available, a leading charity has found.

The LGBT Foundation is currently “firefighting” to help the increased numbers of victims who are isolated from support networks during the coronavirus lockdown, a spokesperson told the i.

The charity says calls to its crisis helpline have doubled since March 23, as the pandemic compounds existing problems caused by a lack of space and understanding of the obstacles facing LGBT+ domestic abuse victims.

Due to funding cuts there are currently no LGBT-specific refuge services in England, and less than one percent of refuges provide specialist support to LGBT+ survivors. The only two that do are located in London.

“There is a very real danger that LGBT+ victims may slip through the net and be left without support, trapped in a situation that is very dangerous to them,” said Paul Martin OBE, chief executive of LGBT Foundation.

According to the charity Galop, LGBT+ domestic violence victims are more likely to be referred to their local authority to get on a housing list than find a refuge space.

What this means is that victims often end up returning to abusive partners as they face homelessness while waiting for the local authority to rehouse them.

Cuts to services over the last decade have resulted in a lack of specialist LGBT+ shelters (Stock photo: Envato Elements)

This was the situation faced by Liam, a gay man who self-referred himself to the LGBT Foundation for support after his partner attacked him.

Though he is “scared for his life”, he’s unable to move as he is out of work and lacking financial resources.

“Liam was very concerned that he would be made street homeless due to the lack of refuge space which will take males and his difficulty getting social housing during this period,” Rhys Dower, domestic abuse co-ordinator, told the i.

“He has now returned to the perpetrator and has disengaged with our services, highlighting just one of many experiences where LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse fall through the cracks due to a lack of LGBT-inclusive support services.”

The LGBT Foundation is now calling on the government to implement crisis plans for gay, bi and trans victims of domestic abuse who are in immediate danger and have limited resources.