4. Expand Community-driven Programming in
Culturally-Specific & LGBT Communities
THE DIVERSITY OF
OUR STATE IS UNTAPPED POTENTIAL.
Every Wisconsin community should be able to draw upon the power of its cultures and identities to address domestic violence.
The diversity of our state is a strength. Providing meaningful and effective services for every victim necessitates that every community have a role in shaping and offering services that are relevant to its members. In addition to continuing to invest in core services that are geared to culturally-specific and underserved populations, Wisconsin should expand support for community-driven services for victims from culturally-specific groups, from underserved populations and who are Lesbian, Gay Bisexual or Transgender individuals.
The diverse communities of our state are resilient, possessing the wisdom and potential to foster safe and healthy families. Services for victims and their children are most effective when they tap this potential, when they are by, for, and of the communities they serve. Survivors feel most comfortable coming forward to get help when they share common values, experiences, native tongues and traditions with the advocates they confide in. And, advocacy for victims is stronger when it organizes and leads a community’s response to domestic violence from within.
In Wisconsin, we have a solid tradition of fostering by, for and of culturally-specific and underserved groups. We need to build on this foundation and expand community-driven services to culturally-specific and underserved populations along several dimensions
In Wisconsin, we have a solid tradition of fostering by, for and of culturally-specific and underserved groups:
A DCF grant currently supports Diverse and Resilient, a state-wide organization that provides training, support and educational materials on effective services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) Populations or victim service providers. The organization also trains community health promoters to distribute information on safe and healthy relationships to LGBT people statewide. DCF also supports the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center to provide crisis counselling, safety planning, advocacy, and case management for LGBT survivors of violence in the greater Milwaukee area.
As discussed in another section, survivors, advocates and community partners identified Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender victims as particularly underserved. Survey respondents likely identified an acute need for LGBT specific services because of the compounding effects of the ignorance and stigma surrounding domestic violence in LGBT relationships with the lack of services that are attuned to LGBT victims’ unique challenges and needs.
While statistics vary slightly, domestic abuse in LGBT relationships occurs at roughly the same rates as it does in heterosexual relationships, despite commonly held beliefs to the contrary. A 2010 study found that 29% of Wisconsin LBT women have been hit, slapped, or kicked by their partners in their lifetimes. Even more, 77% of LBT women said they knew someone who experienced abuse in an LGBT relationship and they were uncomfortable offering help to that person.
Barriers to help-seeking for LGBT victims include: fear of being outed; a lack of support among family or friends; fear of being socially isolated in relatively small, tightly-knit circles of friends and peers; and relatively fewer service agencies that are capable of helping victims address these complex sets of challenges. Some of these obstacles can be especially high in Wisconsin’s rural communities, but they exist across our entire state.
Every Wisconsinite—regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity—should be free from the fear of domestic abuse.
Support community-driven services for culturally-specific and underrepresented populations, including services to LGBT communities throughout Wisconsin. These services should be by, for and of communities they serve.