Equality & Diversity
Since Leeds Women’s Aid opened the 1st refuge for women outside of London in 1973 we have offered and operated women only services, recognising the need for gender specific Domestic Violence & Abuse (DV & A) services.
We recognise that anyone can experience DV & A regardless of sex, gender, race, ethnic or religious group, sexuality, class, or disability, however some women who experience other forms of oppression and discrimination may face further barriers to disclosing abuse and finding help. For example women from black and minority ethnic communities, refugees and asylum seekers, those experiencing Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage or Female Genital Mutilation, transwomen or non-binary people, older or younger women and disabled women.
Women are also more likely than men to experience multiple incidents of abuse, different types of domestic abuse (intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking) and in particular sexual violence.
We can’t talk about diversity without recognising that oppression intersects, therefore white women experience DV & A in different ways to women from BAME communities, or transgender women.
DV & A is perpetuated in many different ways, and often by multiple abusers, and many women say that race and religion compound their experiences as female survivors of DV & A, often actual and fear of racism silencing them.
Due to multiple levels of discrimination, refugee women for example experience greater levels of isolation.
“Gender persecution is rarely recognised or acknowledged appropriately within policy approaches to asylum and immigration in the UK” (CAADA, 2011).
We strive to ensure that women of all, any or no faiths or religions or any ethnic background has equality of access to support from our services, and that they are treated with culturally appropriate respect.
Men who experience DV & A are supported by us through our partnership work in delivering the LDVS consortium and we offer community and accommodation based services to men and their families.
We recognised that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans+ people (LGBT+) were proportionately not engaged in our services, so we undertook some research to find out:
• What kinds of services and support LGBT+ people in Leeds were accessing;
• What their experience of this has been;
• What they would like to see available;
• And what prevents them from accessing support.
From this, we developed and delivered training to ensure that all our frontline staff were aware of and could Identify barriers for LGBT+ people accessing DV and related services and how we can help remove them.
We are currently examining our practices, working towards ensuring that our services are accessible, inclusive and appropriate for LGBT+ people in Leeds.
Emotional and psychological abuse were the most frequently reported types of abuse from LGBT+ respondents. 96% reported that they experienced emotional abuse, and 80% of respondents reported psychological abuse.
We are also working on updating our position statement on equality and diversity to ensure we are as Trans inclusive as we can be. We are working with colleagues within Women’s Lives Leeds, Leeds City Council, LBGT+ Hub, Women’s Aid Federation England and the Big Lottery Fund.
Trans people can experience domestic abuse from a same or opposite sex partner, and can do so regardless of the gender identity of either person.
In some cases, abusers will use the process of ‘coming out’ or transition as an additional form of control. This can be particularly difficult where children are involved.
Trans people can also experience abuse from family members. If someone experiences abuse from their family, this may occur after they have come out, during transition or when they enter into a relationship where either or both partners are trans.
We aim to offer all of our services can be in an accessible way, we will:
• Offer interpreters for telephone and face to face work
• Provide transport or transport costs if we can, particularly if you need to go to court
• Offer help in finding childcare where possible
• Communicate in a professional but plain English way, working in flexible ways to make your experience of support the best it can be
There are a number of resources online about domestic violence and abuse experienced by LGBT+ people
● NHS – Domestic Violence: A resource for gay and bisexual men
● NHS – Domestic Violence: A resource for lesbian and bisexual women (http://www.domesticviolencelondon.nhs.uk/uploads/downloads/DV-A_Resource_for_lesbian_and_bisexual_women.pdf)
● NHS – Domestic Violence: A resource for trans people (http://www.domesticviolencelondon.nhs.uk/uploads/downloads/DV%20Trans%20guide_FINAL_FOR_WEB.pdf )
● Galop LGBT+ – Domestic violence and abuse and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities (http://www.galop.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Domestic-Violence-and-Abuse-and-the-LGBT-communities.pdf)
● Stonewall – Domestic Violence Health Briefing (https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/Domestic_Abuse_Stonewall_Health_Briefing__2012_.pdf)