Steps to Recovery and Resources for Victims of Violence
It can be surprisingly difficult to find helpful and actionable information online about what to do if you are LGBT and experience violence. This brief guide aims to help survivors of violence, those who wish to support survivors, and those who want to organize prevention efforts connected with national and state organizations that are leaders in the field of survivor support. Before connecting with any of these organizations, however, it is important to know what to do if you are a victim of violence.
What to Do
Just after a violent incident, many survivors are not sure what they should do and know only vaguely that they can consider medical and legal options. While every incident is different and every person has different priorities following an attack, survivors can consider the following general steps:
After experiencing violence, you must first consider whether or not you are safe. If you are not in a safe place, try to get to one as soon as possible. Consider calling 911 for help.
While many survivors of a violent incident call the police, because of years of institutionalized sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia among law enforcement, many LGBT people choose not to call the police right away, if ever. If you feel calling the police is not an option, you should still consider seeking medical attention and emotional support.
Document the incident as soon as possible by taking photos of any injuries and making records of correspondence between you and the perpetrator, including emails, text messages, and phone calls. While the physical damage is clear after an incident, the emotional damage can be more difficult to assess and last many years after the physical wounds have healed. Finding a mental health professional with experience treating LGBT patients is an important part of recovery.
Whether or not you report the incident to the police, consider reporting it to the NCAVP and/or the ACLU. The NCAVP uses this information to connect you to the closest local antiviolence program and also gathers this information on a national scale to learn more about violence, improve prevention techniques, and propose legislation. You can report (anonymously, if you want) online at http://www.avp.org/get-help/report-violence or call their 24-hour, bilingual (English and Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141.
Organizations that Support LGBT Survivors of Violence
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) (National)
The NCAVP aims to prevent, respond to, and end violence against and within LGBT communities. It is a coalition of local member programs, organizations, and individuals who collectively create resources, gather and analyze data, advocate for policy, and provide education and technical assistance for anyone with the same goals.
How They Help
Violence Response Member Directory: The NCAVP website has a directory of member and affiliate organizations in each state, making it easy to find and contact the appropriate local resource in response to a violent incident.
Anonymous online or call-in reporting: Whether or not you are comfortable reporting a violent incident to the police, you can report it anonymously online at http://www.avp.org/get-help/report-violence or call their 24-hour, bilingual hotline at 212-714-1141.
Resources: Their website has many resources, including safety tips, fact sheets, reports, and training and technical assistance for local organizations addressing LGBT-related violence issues.
The Network/La Red (Massachusetts)
The Network/La Red is a survivor-led social justice organization that aims to strengthen the LGBT community through education and organizing and providing support services.
How They Help
The Network/La Red supports survivors with advocates, a hotline, a SafeHome program, and connection to legal assistance.
- Advocates are trained staff who provide support and connect survivors with other organizations that can help them. Support can include crisis intervention, safety planning, scheduling medical appointments, researching and understanding compensation options, and connecting with legal services. The service is free and confidential and you can reach an advocate at the hotline.
- The hotline provides emotional support, safety planning, and information for survivors of sexual violence or friends and family of a survivor. The numbers are 617-742-4911 (voice) and 617-227-4911 (tty). The hotline is not toll free, so regular phone charges apply.
- The SafeHome program provides free, confidential, short-term (one to five nights) places to stay. It includes participating hotels and the homes of trained volunteers. For LGBT survivors who are trying to take themselves and their children away from abusive partners, a short-term place to stay is often the missing piece preventing them from doing so. You can request a stay in a SafeHome by calling the hotline.
- If you need legal assistance, the GLBTQ Domestic Violence Attorney Program offers legal representation for LGBT survivors of domestic violence. You can contact them at 617-779-2130 or email@example.com.
Lambda Legal (National)
Lambda Legal is a nonprofit that aims to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of LGBT people and those with HIV. They do this through impact litigation, public policy work, and education. They do not charge clients for legal representation.
How They Help
The Lambda Legal Help Desk can discuss your legal issue with you and provide useful information, including potentially connecting you with local attorneys that are best suited to represent you. They also represent some survivors for free if they decide that the survivor’s case will have a significant impact on advancing the rights of LGBT people and those with HIV.
There are hundreds of organizations in the United States dedicated to supporting their local LGBT community, including survivors of violence. This post features a few leaders who are excellent examples of how to address the serious and too-often overlooked issue of violence against LGBT individuals.