LONG BEACH – The LGBTQ community experiences domestic violence at equal or higher rates than heterosexuals, according to several national studies, but many intimate partner violence support services fail to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ people, experts said.
But officials at The Long Beach LGBTQ Center and Interval House – a local crisis shelter and center for survivors of domestic violence – are collaborating to offer LGBT survivors of intimate partner violence the help they need. The two agencies, last year, received a three-year, $500,000 grant from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
With the money, they have established Long Beach’s first LGBTQ-focused domestic violence support services program, which is based at the Center and emphasizes helping immigrants, men and people of color.
“The more layers we add to someone’s identity, the more complex it can be to provide outreach that will resonate with them and make them feel safe,” Porter Gilberg, executive director of the Long Beach LGBTQ Center said.
For example, a gay man in an abusive relationship, who is undocumented and in the closet, might fear coming forward because his abuser has threatened to out him to family, friends or coworkers or have him deported if he discloses the violence.
“It’s necessary to provide services that are sensitive to the community’s unique needs and provide a safety net that makes them feel comfortable and allows to come forward to receive support,” Gilberg said.