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The Friendship Center Is a Safe Haven for Everyone


TFC Development Director Kim Patterson highlights the vulnerabilities that elevate the LGBTQ+ community's risk of experiencing violence and emphasizes our commitment to serving everyone who accesses our services in a caring and informed way.


There are unfortunately high rates of violence, trauma, and suicide within the LGBTQ+ community, and that prevalence is often inextricably linked with domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. At The Friendship Center, our services are available to everyone, and we are committed to supporting clients in a caring and informed manner that respects their varied life experiences.


LGBTQ+ people are four times more likely to experience violence in their life than their non-LGBTQ+ peers according to a 2020 analysis of crime victimization statistics. LGBTQ+ youth are also at higher risk of teen dating violence than other youth.


Sexual and intimate partner violence is rooted in power and control. This is magnified by the systems of oppression that those in the LBGTQ+ community face throughout their lives. Abusers can use homo- and transphobia as a further means to exert power and control in relationships. Limited access to housing and job instability because of bias and discrimination can limit the LGBTQ+ community’s choices and make them more like to rely on unsafe living arrangements—leaving them even more vulnerable to other forms of violence. According to Polaris Project, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+ (compared to 7% of the general population). Being homeless is often linked with experiencing higher rates of violence. Many people are exploited and forced into sex work as a way to survive while navigating these bigger systemic barriers.


Sexual Violence Continuum visual
Sexual Violence Continuum

Sexual violence is not just rooted in misogyny and a culture of abuse. It is born from all forms of oppression and the normalization of violence. In Lydia Guy’s Sexual Violence Continuum, we can see how understanding this interconnectedness is important in dismantling the attitudes and norms that allow it to happen. Graphic adapted from Re-Visioning the Sexual Violence Continuum (2006).


How issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community are discussed and the othering that often occurs in those discussions also exacerbate the risk of experiencing violence and abuse. In their 2010 report on hate violence against LGBTQ+ communities in the U.S., the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs states:

Acts of hate violence, such as harassment, stalking, vandalism, and physical and sexual assault, are often supported by more socially sanctioned expressions of transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia and are intended to send a message to LGBTQ communities.

Depending on school culture, schools can also be hostile spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, many of whom turn to their teachers for the safety and support they’re not getting from friends or family. When LGBTQ+ youth experience denial or minimization of the abuse, normalization of it, or contribution to it, it can become even more difficult to escape violence and heal from it. These youth are at higher risk of suicide compared to their peers, and teen dating violence exacerbates that risk.


What you can to support people in your life:

  • Believe them if they tell you they have experienced violence and/or abuse.

  • Listen.

  • Validate their feelings.

  • Use the name or pronouns they prefer. If you don’t know, ask before assuming based on appearance.

  • Be sensitive to concerns around confidentiality and outing of someone’s gender and/or sexual identity.

  • Promote respect and healthy relationships.

  • Don’t ask for details.

 

We see the harm the LGBTQ+ community experiences and are committed in our own work to dismantling systems of oppression and the culture of abuse that contribute to violence. The Friendship Center is a place where all people can seek support and resources if they have experienced violence at the hands of family or partners, sexual violence, or stalking.


Visit our LGBTQ+ Community resource page for helpful links to learn more and find community-specific support. Visit our services page to learn about the free, confidential, 24/7 support all our advocates are ready to offer survivors in our tri-county area.

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