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October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and LGBTQ+ History month

By:  Ashley Powell, Training Services Manager, DVN

It’s officially October, which means it’s time for fall activities and spooky movies! October is my favorite time of year! Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, and I love to see the leaves change as the fall weather rolls in. While these simple aspects of October make me excited, this month also happens to be very important to me. October signals the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness month and also LGBTQ+ History month. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and an advocate for healthy relationships, this is a time of year where I see two important aspects of my life recognized in different ways. As someone who trains the community frequently on domestic violence, it is important to know the barriers that different communities face, so that we can better serve them and help all individuals access safety and security in their lives.

When we think about domestic violence, there are a lot of key terms that come to mind. Many times we think of physical, emotional, and financial abuse, as those are some of the most common. Unfortunately, these forms of abuse do not discriminate. We know that domestic violence can happen to anyone. It is also true, however, that the LGBTQ+ community experiences intimate partner violence at a higher rate than cisgender heterosexual individuals. Within the community, there are also unique forms of abuse that individuals can experience, one of which is being outed.

Outed is a term commonly heard within the community, and refers to one person revealing another person’s LGBTQ+ identity without their consent. This can be extremely dangerous because, unfortunately, it is not always safe to come out. Coming out is also an extremely personal process, and should only happen when the individual is ready to do so. While there is generally more acceptance for LGBTQ+ identities now, there are still a lot of barriers and challenges with that. Not every person or place is welcoming.

One key aspect of intimate partner violence to remember is that it is about control. Whenever any one person is abusing another, it is to gain or maintain power and control over that individual. Outing is a way that an abuser could do this, by saying something such as, “If you leave me, I’ll tell your family that we’re not just roommates,” or “If you leave me, I’ll tell everyone you work with that you’re transgender,”. This can be extremely scary for the victim, and also have serious implications on their life. While LGBTQ+ identities are more accepted than any other time in history, we still have a long way to go. For some individuals, being out at work or school is simply not an option and could lead to devastating outcomes.

With all this in mind, be sure to check in on your LGBTQ+ friends. Find out where and to who they are comfortable being out to, and offer support to them if they need it. If someone is asking about a friends identity, and you are not sure if they are comfortable being out or not, don’t disclose their identity. Find out how they feel about situations like these, and have discussions. Together, we can create safer communities. For more information or training on intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ+ community, reach out to me at apowell@dvnconnect.org.