For roughly 5-6 months last year, Americans were experiencing some level of isolation in our homes; sometimes alone, but more often with our families and significant others. This forced isolation, as well as the financial hardships and other forms of stress brought on by the pandemic and quarantining, increases the risk of domestic and intimate partner violence. In 2020, approximately 4 out of 10 adults reported increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Compared to 2019, the National Domestic Violence hotline had a 2.3% increase in calls in 2020 and had a significant increase in reports in housing instability (+219%).
From previous research reports, LGBTQIA+ individuals are typically already at a higher risk for domestic and intimate partner violence:
This past year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation conducted a survey of LGBTQIA+ individuals who have been experiencing intimate partner violence to determine how the community has been affected by the pandemic:
As a society, we have made some progress towards inclusivity and reducing the stigma surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community. However, LGBTQIA+ individuals still report experiencing discrimination and hate for just being who they are. LGBTQIA+ survivors that disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity are still often denied access to domestic violence services, turned away from shelters, denied orders of protection, and even improperly arrested as the primary aggressor. Progress has been made, but there is still a lot of work to be done to combat the LGBTQIA+ stigmas that remain in our culture.
Peace at Home is happily partnered with the NWA Equality Network and is actively working to create connections with other LGBTQIA+ resources in the NWA area to expand our resource list for LGBTQIA+ clients. Our services are free, voluntary, and available to anyone experiencing IPV and our LGBTQIA+ advocate is also available to any clients to work with specifically on LGBTQIA+ related issues. Peace at Home recognizes that, as service providers, it is important for us to meet the needs of this underserved population and to continue to strive to make our services inclusive of all people and sensitive to the realities that they are facing, especially as this pandemic continues to unfold.