The Network / La Red: Access for LGBQ/T survivors

Creating accessible, welcoming, and competent services so that LGBQ/T survivors of domestic violence can move from surviving to thriving.

The Problem

25-33% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and/or transgender people experience partner abuse/domestic violence. However domestic and sexual violence (DSV) programs have only slowly responded to LGBQ/T partner abuse, and many LGBQ/T survivors (especially those who are transgender) are either refused services outright or, when allowed to participate, find that they lack cultural competence. For instance, most programs equate partner abuse with male violence against women. And while individual staff may have been trained on how to recognize batterers who present themselves as survivors, only a handful of programs have integrated that training by developing screening policy and procedures. Further, while there is growing knowledge about LGBQ/T communities among current staff at mainstream DSV programs, without institutionalization of that knowledge, high turnover means that each generation of staff/volunteers needs training on the intersections of abuse and homo/bi/transphobia – for instance, issues such as how the historical relationship between the legal system and the LGBQ/T community might affect a survivor’s decisions around seeking restraining orders. Staff also need training on how to create a welcoming environment within their programs and how to address homo/bi/transphobia among other service participants. Additionally, it is rare for mainstream DSV programs to mention LGBQ/T partner abuse in their outreach campaigns, much less actively reach out to LGBQ/T communities or include identifiably-LGBQ/T models in their advertising. This leaves many survivors unaware that abuse happens in their communities, unable to identify when it is happening to them or to someone they know, and unacquainted with potential resources to turn to.

The Solution

The Network/La Red is a survivor-led organization, and we understand LGBQ/T partner abuse issues deeply because we are who we work with. Our nationally-recognized training and technical assistance (TA) help DSV programs become more accessible to and safer for LGBQ/T survivors. Trainings cover such topics as understanding LGBQ/T communities, working with transgender and non-binary survivors, LGBQ/T partner abuse, assessing whether someone is the abuser or the survivor, creating survivor-center services, and others. Our TA is a more intensive 2 to 3-year long commitment that includes assessment, planning, and regular tailored consultations examining policies, procedures, and practices to integrate LGBQ/T partner abuse into all aspects of the organization.

To supplement this work, we also distribute three publications as appropriate. These include our two nationally-acclaimed manuals, “Open Minds Open Doors” (guiding mainstream DSV programs to improve accessibility to LGBQ/T survivors) and "Power With, Power For" (a trainers' manual for creating survivor-centered services) as well as our 2017 study, "When You Just Know: LGBQ/T partner abuse survivors' experience of risk of physical violence and lethality."

As confirmed by a recent assessment of organizations that have engaged in TA, the first phase of our work successfully shifts conversations from, why does LGBQ/T inclusion matter, to, how can our program change the overall framework of our work to center LGBQ/T experiences and needs. In the second phase of TA, we help organizations shift their culture as they answer that question for themselves.

Planned Use Of Funds

Historically, we provided TA for 5-7 organizations/year. But after significant budget cuts to our TA and training program nearly two years ago, we struggle to maintain TA for 3 organizations at a time while also providing trainings around the state. These funds will be put towards hiring a new part-time educator position (10-15 hrs/wk). This position will allow us to increase trainings provided to 15-30/year and will allow us to maintain our current level of technical assistance.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

The Network/La Red, a grassroots, survivor-led, social justice organization working to end LGBQ/T partner abuse/domestic violence. We are based in Boston but work statewide as well as nationally, providing outreach, education, community organizing, direct services, and leadership to end LGBQ/T partner abuse.

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