Domestic violence agencies now “ready to serve everyone”

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Indianapolis, Ind. (March 3, 2016) -  A dozen central Indiana domestic violence service providers are now trained and ready to help the LGBTQ community.

The Domestic Violence Network says the incidents of LGBTQ domestic violence are very high, but there is little reporting or requests for help.

"Incidents of violence are certainly higher in the LGBTQ community, sometimes two to three times higher than their heterosexual counterparts," said Chris Handburg, Director of Programs and Research at the Domestic Violence Network. "One of the things that we see are people afraid of being outed. That is a huge method and tool of control and violence in same-sex relationships."

"As little as a third of people who experience violence sought services and a lot of those were because neighbors or friends called the police, other than them seeking services themselves."

The Service Equality Task Force was founded a few years ago by The Julian Center.

"The SET looked at the way nonprofit practices service the LGBTQ community," said Handburg. "Over a couple years they did research within the community and with agencies to find what services were being offered and what outreach efforts were being made. Through that research, we found the majority of the people within the community didn't know about the services available, and those who did didn't have a high opinion of them."

Handburg says they did research and developed a training model and some policies and practices for agencies to implement.

"In the past six months we have trained agencies and gone through the endorsement process and so now 12 agencies that provide services for domestic violence, sexual assault and housing have gone through this process."

Local agencies that participated in the endorsement process include The Julian Center, Legacy House, Damien Center, Center for Victims and Human Rights, Prevail, Families First, Alternatives Inc., Coburn Place, St. Francis Center of Hope, and the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault (ICESA).

They are all Ready to Serve Everyone and all organizations that complete the process will display the special logo. Click here for more on the agencies.

"I think to have the conversation is a way that we can raise awareness in the community," said Handburg. "Talk to our friends, talk to our kids about what a healthy relationship is, what healthy habits are in a relationship versus unhealthy ones, and then be open and believe people when they disclose."

"There’s no research to indicate how bad it is here, but I think it’s encouraging that we see numbers going up with reports because that means that people are aware of services available and they’re seeking them."

Indy Pride, Inc and the Domestic Violence Network are partnering for an educational session Thursday night focusing on dating abuse and sexual violence in the LGBTQ community as well as resources available to those who experience it.

Local service providers will participate in a panel to discuss warning signs of abuse, forms of violence experienced by the LGBTQ community and how to help friends and family in abusive relationships.

You'll also hear from a domestic abuse survivor.

It starts at 7 p.m. at The Damien Center at 26 N. Arsenal Avenue in Indianapolis.

"I think we've taken the first steps in turning a corner to addressing violence in the LGBTQ community here in Central Indiana," said Handburg. "Agencies are eager to adopt practices that are open and welcoming and they are eager to start training on how to appropriately address issues unique to the community."