The news has attempted to further the concept of family togetherness while the Stay-at-Home orders are in place across the country. We are all trying to realize that silver lining.
What hasn’t been receiving the necessary attention is how being forced to stay isolated in an abusive home can only make that volatile situation worse. Victims of abuse are being forced to stay in homes where they cannot feel safe, within easy reach of their abusers, without the usual resources available to help due to the current untenable situation. For kids in the LGBTQI community, especially trans kids, being locked down with a family that is not accepting, loving, or even kind can seem like a nightmare from which there is no waking up.
According to an article published in Time Magazine in March (before the strictest of stay-at-home orders were given), domestic violence was already seeing a spike, while trips to the ER and calls for emergency services declined. Abusers have been threatening victims with expulsion on to the streets, and when physical attacks do occur, the injured are not going to hospitals because they fear contracting COVID. Coupled with the fear of homelessness, trans kids are being isolated from medical help and any positive emotional support they might receive from their peers and the community we are all striving so hard to build.
More damaging than the physical injuries, though, are those emotional scars that occur when we cannot envision a way out. The constant negative re-enforcement of being deemed worthless, wrong, or unacceptable is not a message any person should have to endure, and for kids already suffering from the painful psychological trauma of “otherness,” any gains made by friends and outside support are being chipped away by an environment that SHOULD be a safe haven, but instead becomes a prison.
This is not just a crisis for our youth to endure. Domestic violence between romantic partners within the LGBTQI community has always been a concern. It has now added to the overall crisis of violence that already plagues the community. Those inclined to abuse and control now have total access to their victims and are not just using violence and the threat of eviction to satisfy those inclinations. For so many in the trans community that struggles with gender identity, the fear of being “outed” is a constant worry that must be endured until that person is ready to live the life they truly want. But the threat of exposure by loved ones is another way that abusers are controlling victims, and it is a powerful motivator to remain silent about maltreatment.
Regardless of age or particulars of the situation, extreme economic hardship and financial uncertainty are historical contributors to instances of domestic violence in every community, and we are in the thick of unprecedented strain in that regard. During the current public health crisis, LGBTQ people may be among the most at risk of an upturn in intimate partner violence, or IPV. As cited by an NBC news story run on April 17, 2020, “Recent research from LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign found that LGBTQ people are more likely to be employed in highly affected industries and are therefore more exposed to economic insecurity as a result of the pandemic.”
Organizations are trying to step up and offer support where they can. Still, a situation where a victim is under the eyes of their abuser makes getting the help where it needs to go particularly tricky right now. It helps if loved ones pay attention to signs when they can communicate with at-risk individuals so that they can feel heard and less isolated. Recognize that reaching out doesn’t always lead to an immediate end to a relationship or removal from the home. At the very least can allow victims to “create safety plans or plan moves to refuges that continue to operate for those most in need.”
“The LGBT National Help Center operates a range of hotlines that provide peer-support and access to local resources. New York’s Anti-Violence Project serves LGBTQ people who are experiencing violence by offering a 24/7 bilingual (English/Spanish) crisis intervention hotline. The Human Rights Campaign has compiled a list of additional resources.”
TransNewYork is now raising money to help those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are raising money with these goals in mind:
- Establish a 24/7 Mental Health Hotline to help members of the LGBTI community cope with the effects of the Covid-19 Coronavirus
- Implement a Virtual Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Treatment plan for the LGBTI community
- Establish a Workforce Development Plan for the LGBTI community to help them reestablish employment
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