Ending The Silence
On Friday 30th June 2014 the first, and hopefully inaugural, conference in Ireland on domestic violence & abuse for Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual and Transgender people and community was held in Dundalk, Co. Louth.
Domestic Abuse in LGBT Relationships Conference
Outcomers is an organisation based in Dundalk providing a social and befriending support group for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people and community. In June of last year, Outcomers hosted the Domestic Abuse (or Intimate Partner Violence) in LGBT Relationships Conference in conjunction with Cosc (The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence) and with the support of the HSE NE.
I was one of the lucky people who had heard about this conference and on that Friday afternoon, after a nostalgic journey on Bus Eireann from Dublin to Dundalk, I joined a full and friendly room of individuals and representatives who had made their way to find out what this talk on LGBT domestic violence was all about.
Who makes a relationship domestic?
You see up until this point, even though I knew that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people were in all sorts of intimate relationships - including ones as challenging as those encountering sexual, physical, emotional and mental abuse, I just didn't apply the same terminology to them. As if domestic could only be interpreted as married, heterosexual, valid, husband & wife and under the colour of the law.
It was a brave undertaking by those in Outcomers (scroll down for more information on Outcomers). Not everybody was so sure about highlighting the flaws that can exist in a same sex relationship - not when the marriage referendum was in sight and certainly not when the country was going to be asked to validate these relationships. What if everyone found out that LGBT relationships are as complex and flawed as heterosexual relationships? What if they found out that sometimes these relationships don't work either. What if...
Lynne Cahill, PhD Research Trinity College
One of the many positive outcomes I encountered from attending this conference was firstly, what I learned and secondly, who I learned that from. Lynne Cahill is currently researching a PhD in the School of Social Work & Social Policy at Trinity College, Dublin and was invited as a guest speaker given her interest and expertise on the subject. It was Lynne's tentative approach to the sensitivities of domestic abuse as well as the potential unique sensitivities a person from the LGBT community could experience as a result of domestic abuse (including their contact with domestic abuse service providers) which a cord with me.
Same Sex Domestic Violence
A survey for women who have experienced a past abusive relationship with a female partner.
I realised that not only is there an abyss of information missing on the historical and current state of LGBT experiences of domestic violence but that the service providers in Ireland who, mostly by default, incorporate the LGBT experience into their heterosexual remit were not, by in large, equipped or educated in the nuances of the LGBT individual, their community and subsequently, their experience.
Yes. A mind boggling conference for a mind boggling prospect. How can all of this be addressed? Given the diversity of the LGBT community - Where does a person start to learn about these minority experiences and the service providers that support them?
So to the purpose of this blog post. Lynne is looking for women who have historically (meaning in the past) experienced an abusive relationship with another women. Are you female, over 18 years old and no longer in an abusive relationship with a female partner? Are you willing to participate in a confidential interview-based survey?
Lynne intends to use this information to develop a framework for the domestic violence services which are currently available in Ireland (and for any future service providers) to help them assist non-hetrosexual women affected by domestic violence.
Lynne will be the person conducting the interview and has a full and compassionate understanding of what talking about this experience might mean for you. Your participation is important and appreciated.
Talk in Confidence
What the word confidential means in the context of this survey. Anything you choose to talk about in your interview with Lynne will be held in confidence. You or your historical partner, or the details of your relationship will not be identifiable or shared in such a manner that you may be identified.
Please read Lynne's comments below. You will find her contact details both on the featured poster and printed below this blog. Please contact Lynne directly if you think you would be willing to participate or if you have any questions about the survey or what participating might involve.
Dundalk Outcomers is a social and befriending support group for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Our drop in centre provides a safe, social and relaxed environment for our LGBT community and is located in the centre of Dundalk town. It has been open since 1997. They offer some light refreshments and a chat. Free gay and lesbian literature is available. To visit Outcomers website, click on the logo above or use the link provided in the contact details below.
The Centre is run by volunteer members of the Dundalk Outcomers Group, working to enhance the life of the Gay Lesbian Bi-sexual & Transgender community in the North- East and the border counties.
There are two full-time staff members (and sometimes a CE worker, an EVS student and/or students on work placements):
Bernardine is the project co-ordinator, she is responsible for the day to day running of the centre, for the development of the programmes that the group run and she also is involved in the promotion of Lesbian and Gay health information and training.
John is a youth co-ordinator and is responsible for developing services and supports for LGBT young people aged 14-25 years old in the North East region.