Celebrating Pride

Domestic violence impacts LGBTQ community; nonprofit tries to raise awareness

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Domestic violence often has a greater impact in the LGBTQ community, advocates say.

Not only is there fear about coming forward as a victim but also fear letting others know their sexual identity.

The Domestic Violence Network says bisexual women are considered high-risk with roughly 61% experiencing rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. Added to that, domestic violence isn’t always physical, mental or emotional violence, all which can be just as detrimental.

Parker Rathwell said physical and verbal abuse from classmates started long before she came out as bisexual at 14 years old. She could barely get through a school year without being assaulted.

“I knew about the F slur before I ever knew what the word ‘gay’ meant,” Parker said.

Even after coming out, her partner rallied against her and forced her to church services where she was told to repent, only now realizing that too was a form of domestic violence.

“I’m kind of glad we got that part on camera. That is something that I struggle with characterizing in that way,” she said.

The Domestic Violence Network tries to help people realize things like that but also their strength. Help is always available no matter who someone is and no matter who they love. To spread that message the network is taking its domestic violence messaging to businesses and schools.

“So with this communitywide plan, we realize that the LGBTQ plus community and Black and African-American community are often left out of the conversation about domestic violence,” said Ash Rathwell, traning services manager with Domestic Violence Network.

The violence is not only against bisexual women. Lesbians experience rape, physical violence or stalking at 44%, and heterosexual women experience it at 35%.

“For a long time, domestic violence was talked about as a man and a woman in a relationship, and the man is abusive to the woman,” Rathwell said, “and while it can look like that anyone who falls outside of that oftentimes can kind of struggle with coming forward about what they are experiencing.”

Parker says having people deny her identity caused damage over the years. Finally she’s in a relationship that’s helping repair that.

“And that’s taking a lot for me to really feel like I am enough,” Parker said.

Domestic Violence Network representatives say it’s great to focus on these issues during Pride month, but let’s keep that focus for the whole year.