Report: Increase in LGBTQ intimate partner violence, most homicides ever in 2011

2011 LGBTQH IPV homicides. Graphic: NCAVP.

Significantly more intimate partner violence occurred among LGBTQH people in 2011 than in 2010 and more than three times the number of IPV-related homicides occurred, according to a report issued by the Nation Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs Wednesday. The homicide rate was the highest the organization has ever recorded at 19 in total.

The report, titled “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence 2011,” also indicates that gay men, LGBTQH people of color, LGBTQH youth and young adults as well as transgender communities experienced the most severe forms of intimate partner violence. Twelve of the 19 homicide victims included in the report identified as men and seven identified as women — two of whom identified as transgender women.

“This year’s report indicates that men are disproportionately victims of homicide in incidents of intimate partner violence,” said Gary Heath, Domestic Violence Program Coordinator at the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) in Ohio. “NCAVP’s report shows that the societal understanding of IPV survivors needs to expand to include gay men.”

In total, NCAVP programs received 3,930 reports of IPV, an actual decrease of 22.2 percent from 2010, which it says is due to the lack of funding available to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. The LAGLC was able to report almost half as many incidents over 2010. Excluding LA’s reports, there was an 18.3 percent increase in reports of LGBTQH IPV nationwide, according to the report.

On the whole, gay and lesbian survivors made up the majority of the victims recorded, at 38.7 percent and 31.3 percent, respectively. The number of lesbians who reported violence decreased slightly from 34.8 percent in 2010. In addition, the number of White and Latino IPV survivors increased over 2010 from 37.8 percent to 40.4 and 31.8 percent to 36.6 percent, respectively. A portion of the report also broke down the type of violence reported as broken down by most impacted identities:

“…People of color were more likely to report experiencing threats/intimidation and verbal harassment. Bisexual and transgender survivors were more likely to report experiencing verbal harassment, threats, and intimidation as a form of IPV. People of color under 30 were more likely to experience injuries, physical violence, and threats and intimidation. Youth and young adults were more likely to be injured and to experience physical violence.”

Not only did violence and homicides increase among the communities included in the report, but so did the amount of victims who encountered widespread flaws in the response from law enforcement and the courts. Fewer LGBTQH victims who requested an order of protection were granted them, a decrease from 83.7 percent in 2010 to 78.1 percent in 2011. In addition, responding police arrested survivors of IPV or both individuals in 28.4 percent of the reported incidents, up 6.5 percent.

“Of those who interacted with police in 2011, 11.5 percent reported that police attitudes were hostile and 33.2 percent reported that police attitudes were indifferent,” said Lisa Gilmore, director of education and victim advocacy at Center on Halsted. “When those charged with responding to violent and abusive acts do not do so appropriately, survivors do not continue to reach out for assistance, which can decrease future safety.”

In Chicago, and across the country, IPV survivors who identified as anything other than female were denied access to shelter, adding to the large majority of survivors, or 61.6 percent, who were  left with little resources or places to go for help. That number dramatically increased from 44.6 percent in 2010, according to the report, which recommends changes to policy across the board.

“Lack of access to shelters and other supportive services increases a survivor’s risk of immediate danger and puts their lives at risk,” said Gilmore. “People who identify as anything other than woman are systematically excluded from domestic violence-specific emergency and longer term housing options. For example, in Chicago, there is not one, single domestic violence-specific emergency shelter bed available for any adult who identifies their gender as anything other than as a biological woman.”

The lack of shelter for gay men, transgender people and queer people often leave these victims exposed to other dangers present in navigating the homeless shelter system, and force some to rely on open public spaces like trains, buses and waiting rooms for safety.

LGBTQH men were about two times more likely to be injured in incidents of IPV than any other community. People of color under age 30 were about four times more likely to report physical violence and were almost two and a half times more likely to be injured from the violence, Gilmore said.

“The data reported to NCAVP in 2011 indicates that people of color under age 30 and men surviving intimate partner violence are in need of systemic responses that recognize the higher rates of more severe violence experienced by these survivors and that such systems act in relevant and competent ways to increase safety for these vulnerable and disproportionately impacted survivors,” Gilmore said.  “We are calling on policymakers to institute LGBTQH-specific non-discrimination provisions to increase support and safety for all survivors and to put an end to discriminatory laws and policies that currently increase barriers and decrease safety for LGBTQH survivors when seeking support.”

In the report, NCAVP makes additional recommendations for policy changes at multiple levels of government, including:

  • Pass an LGBTQ-inclusive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that protects survivors from service discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and recognizes LGBTQ communities as under-served.
  • Fund LGBTQH intimate partner violence prevention initiatives, particularly for youth and young adults.
  • Support LGBTQH training and technical assistance programs to increase the cultural competency of all victim service providers.
  • Increase local, state, and national funding to LGBTQH-specific anti-violence programs, particularly for survivor-led initiatives.
  • Increase research and documentation of LGBTQH intimate partner violence.

“This report is ultimately a tool for policymakers, funders, and advocates to use to address LGBTQH intimate partner violence,” said Chai Jindasurat, NCAVP coordinator at the New York City Anti-Violence Project. “Our recommendations and best practices offer specific solutions for increasing life-saving support for survivors, reaching LGBTQH IPV survivors, and shifting the ways in which we address intimate partner violence in the U.S. to prevent and end this violence.”