LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Day: Seen and Believed

May 25, 2023

This Sunday marks LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Day. Held annually on 28 May, the day’s purpose is to raise awareness of the prevalence and challenges of intimate partner and family violence in the LGBTQIA+ community.

The day aims to help end violence and abuse in the community by increasing visibility and understanding and giving hope and courage to victim survivors.

LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Day was inaugurated in Brisbane in 2020 by the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation. Fast forward to 2023, and it is now a global event with 310 government departments and organisations from 12 countries recognising the day, including England, France, Wales, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the USA.

The theme of the day is #SeenAndBelieved. The health sector is a critical point for people affected by family violence, by providing medical care and pathways to specialist support. Every person affected by family violence, with their unique identities, bodies and relationships have a right to be seen and believed by their health care providers.

At Northern Health, the Rainbow Working Group and The Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence Team (SHRFV) are working together to raise awareness on this important issue.

“It is a human right to live a life free from violence and we all have a part to play in ensuring all victim survivors of violence are supported,” said Tanya Ellis, SHRFV Manager.

“Unfortunately, there is still apprehension within the LGBTQIA+ community to disclose family violence or contact mainstream services, which means victim survivors remain largely invisible with low levels of reporting.”

“Northern Health aims to play an important role in preventing family violence through providing a respectful, equitable and safe service. Northern Health is committed to providing an environment that is safe for all victim survivors of family violence to disclose their experience and receive support and access safety.”

Family violence is behaviour by a person towards a family member that is physically or sexually abusive, emotionally or psychologically abusive, economically abusive, threatening or coercive, or controlling or dominating of that family member and causes them to fear for their safety or wellbeing or for that of another person.

Family violence can effect people of all genders and sexual identities and can occur in all family types including intimate partners, across generations, extended families and carer relationships.

Forms of family violence perpetrated against LGBTQIA+ people, that are unique to LGBTQIA+ experiences, include threatening to ‘out’ a person’s gender or sexual identity, intersex status or HIV status to family, friends, colleagues or their community, and using this as way to hurt, harm or control victim behaviour.

Family violence against LGBTQIA+ people can also involve restricting a victim survivor from accessing identity affirming items, medication or health services, pressuring a victim survivor to conform to particular ‘norms’ of sex or gender, forcing a person into homelessness or ostracising them from their ‘family of origin’ in response to their sexual or gender identity, or elderly, dependant transgender people being denied access to hormone therapy by their children.

According to the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation, more than 60 per cent of LGBTQIA+ people have experienced domestic, family or intimate partner violence and abuse in their lifetime, and 72 per cent of LGBTQIA+ people who have experienced domestic or family violence did not report the abuse to anyone.

“As a social worker I have come across LGBTQIA+ patients presenting with risk of family violence including mental health challenges, being HIV positive, being victims of previous incidents of family violence and other psychosocial vulnerabilities,” said Chamie (he/him), Social Worker.

“As health care workers, it is important that we are able to identify risk, support these patients and create safe spaces for them to seek help.”

Northern Health encourages staff to get involved and show their support to the LGBTQIA+ community by wearing something rainbow throughout the week, have a conversation about what makes a healthy relationship, spread the word on social media with #SeenAndBelieved, becoming aware of recourses available to the LGBTQIA+ victim survivors, and visiting the displays in the main foyers for further information and resources.

For more information on LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Day, including social media material, click here.

Featured image left to right shows Tanya Ellis, SHRFV Manager, Chamie (he/him), Social Worker and Nikhil Rawat, Social Worker.

Support Services:

  • With Respect: Specialist LGBTQI+ Family Violence Service – Ph: 1800 542 847 (Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm)
  • Rainbow Door: LGBTQIA+ information, support and referral helpline 0 Ph: 1800 729 367, (10 am – 5 pm, seven days)
  • 1800 Respect: 24/7 National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service – Ph: 1800 737 732 (24/7).
  • Qlife: LGBTIQ+ peer support, information and referral. Ph: 1800 184 527
  • Lifeline: 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services. Ph: 131 114
  • Disclose to your health professional today to access support and safety.