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Information for Advocates: Safety Planning with LGBTQ Victims
- Be alert for the abuser’s use of LGBTQ-specific tactics.
- Always consider the children’s safety. Children of LGBTQ parents may never have told anyone that one parent was abusing the other, for fear that disclosure will lead to the family breaking up – or they may not be careful in what they say to whom. They may be afraid of outing their parents to other residents in shelter. Talk with the parent about what he/she wants other residents to know, and what information the children can safely share with other children in shelter.
- Identify community resources. An agency that is a member of the NYS LGBTQ DV Network may be able to help you connect victims to LGBTQ-friendly resources in your community.
- Help clients assess the potential costs (homophobic or transphobic responses, dual arrest) and benefits (protection) of contacting law enforcement or requesting an Order of Protection. Don’t assume that doing so is a good idea for everyone.
- Help clients assess the potential costs (silencing, victim-blaming, siding with the abuser) and benefits (support, emergency assistance) of disclosing the abuse to LGBTQ friends. Remember that the victim’s friends are likely also friends of the abuser, and that the local LGBTQ community may be a small one.
- Provide knowledgeable referrals. For instance, a transgender victim in the middle of a custody battle needs an attorney who understands both transgender legal issues and child custody issues. An LGT immigrant who is married to her/his abusive partner needs an attorney who understand IPV and the complexities of immigration law and the limitations imposed by the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The LGBTQ DV Network may be able to help with referrals.
- In discussing what should go into a transgender victim’s emergency escape bag, remember to ask about what they need to survive in the world – binding, clothing, make-up, wigs, medication, etc. – not just what they need to let them get away from their abusive partner.