We wanted to look at domestic violence survivors and resources for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT+) people as we mark LGBT History Month. and what we believe needs to be done in the future, particularly with regard to service commissioning.” Domestic abuse affects LGBT+ victims and survivors at a rate comparable to, if not higher than, heterosexual women. Furthermore, while LGBT+ people may be subjected to comparable types of domestic abuse, they may also be subjected to abuse based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The same can be stated of the impediments to assistance and support.
Despite these levels of need, we published a report a year ago that discovered a significant lack of specialist support for LGBT+ victims and survivors, despite knowing that’specialist ‘by and for’ services rooted in the communities they serve are best placed to provide the bespoke and specialist support that marginalised and minority victims and survivors require. Not only that, but there was also a postcode lottery.
Regrettably, the problem persists. Money is, of course, a fundamental issue that our recently published mapping research, a Patchwork of Provision, has identified as particularly challenging for ‘by and for’ services. Another significant issue is establishing how to create the capacity of ‘by and for’ LGBT+ domestic violence support services in the first place, considering the scarcity of such resources in many parts of England and Wales.
Devon and Cornwall are one place that has attempted to address these two issues. There, commissioners worked with a local LGBT+ organisation, Intercom Trust, to develop specialised domestic abuse assistance.
As a result of a successful bid to the Ministry of Justice for funding to develop the Safer Rainbow Project, two LGBT+ domestic abuse advocates have been providing assistance, support, and guidance to low to high risk LGBT+ victims and survivors of current or historical domestic abuse since April 2022.
LGBT+ victims and survivors should also have access to appropriate health, housing, and welfare guidance, as well as assistance with legal issues and other identified requirements. Furthermore, the two LGBT+ domestic abuse workers have delivered presentations to help other professionals from a variety of services understand the additional challenges that LGBT+ victims and survivors of domestic violence face, as well as the additional barriers to receiving treatment.
According to local commissioner Collette Eaton-Harris, the key to gaining funding for, and then developing, the Safer Rainbow Project was bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders. They included LGBT+ specialists as well as strategic leads from health, local governments, and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office. That event prompted the request for funding since it contributed to a shared understanding of the need, how to fill it, and because stakeholders committed to work to build a new service.
National governing body
About the same time, Galop, a national organisation that works with and for LGBT+ victims and survivors of interpersonal abuse and violence, issued a manual titled ‘Commissioning for Inclusion: delivering services for LGBT+ survivors of domestic abuse’. The guidance considers how commissioners might develop or sustain LGBT+ domestic abuse support services over the course of a commissioning cycle. It also includes provider recommendations, such as how to demonstrate that they are responding to and identifying the needs of LGBT victims and survivors.
Collette also emphasised the importance of Galop’s external assistance, emphasising how the combined specialised case – led by Intercom Trust as the local service but supported by a national charity – aided in ensuring traction.
The Safer Rainbow Project has helped a wide range of LGBT+ victims of domestic abuse and violence in Devon and Cornwall since its start. Victims and survivors have responded positively, suggesting both positive experiences with support and the importance of working with a service-led organisation.
“Thank you so much for collaborating with me and providing me with a new outlook on life as a strong and independent woman. My emotional resilience is definitely better now, and I will continue to enhance my self-care as a result of your suggestions.”
“A service that caters to a wide range of gender identities and sexualities quickly lends itself to an understanding of modern-day mistreatment of nonconforming individuals. This, together with the excellent and patient care provided, provides an immediate safety net.”
“Intercom has the experience and understanding to welcome vulnerable people, care for their needs, and provide assistance in any area where they are suffering. Being in a DV scenario, I received a lot of support and benefited greatly from my sessions.”
Despite the fact that our research on the current postcode lottery shows that there are still barriers for LGBT+ victims and survivors, our work in Devon and Cornwall shows that this does not have to be the case, and that we can work together to ensure that all victims and survivors, including LGBT+ people, have access to domestic abuse services.
If you live in Devon or Cornwall and want to learn more about Intercom Trust, you may visit their website or call their toll-free number at 0800 612 3010. Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Galop’s website has further information about domestic violence help and support.”