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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
July 20, 2007

Home violence reports drop in Central Ohio


National figures are also lower, but this could be a technical flaw

Columbus--The Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization received 43 reports of domestic violence in the central Ohio LGBT community in 2006, a 27 percent drop from the previous year.

That information came out in the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Organizations’ 2006 domestic violence report, released on July 12.

The national coalition of 33 local organizations, founded by Gloria McCauley of BRAVO and Jeffrey Montgomery of the Triangle Foundation in Detroit, releases hate crime and domestic violence statistics each year. A dozen of the member groups participated in the 2006 report.

The domestic violence figures showed a 15 percent decrease in reported incidents nationwide, but the executive summary warned that the numbers do not necessarily show an actual decrease in intimate partner violence in the LGBT community.

“While these findings reveal something of the magnitude and perhaps even the relative distribution of domestic violence affecting LGBT individuals in the United States, it is not currently possible to generalize them any further,” the introduction states. “Specifically, changes in the number of domestic violence incidents reported to NCAVP are almost entirely the function of evolving program and organizational capacities, as well as outreach campaigns and program activity focus.”

“The 15.3% decrease in the total number of cases reported over those reported in 2005 is not likely an indication of a diminishing problem, rather shifts in staffing and a year interruption in the production of this report, as well as other program variables are much more likely causes of the decrease,” it concludes.

While the number of incidents reported in Columbus and the surrounding area decreased, BRAVO’s release notes that there was an increase in cases where a weapon was used, and six of the 43 reports also included sexual assault. Five of the survivors of domestic violence were transgendered, which was higher than the previous year.

Gary Heath, the domestic violence program coordinator for BRAVO, noted that his organization is one of the few that has managed to maintain steady levels of funding and programming, and is looking to expand its services.

“Not having a good source of funding leads to having programs that some years are very strong, other years are not,” he said. “We’ve been able to maintain funding.”

“We have, like any program, gained grants and lost grants, but we’ve found the money to continue the program,” he continued. “When our program began, it was a part-time position. It’s grown to a full-time position, and we’ve been able to maintain that.”

He said that, along the course of the organization’s domestic violence reporting, the numbers have remained fairly constant, which also holds true with BRAVO’s hate crime statistics.

“For the most part, the statistics have been anywhere from 40 to 60 reporting, so that’s been pretty much the same,” Heath noted. “We’ve been able to continue to staff our help line. We hope in the next few years to be able to staff it seven nights a week. It currently is staffed Sunday through Thursday, and we’d like to bump that up to have it staffed Fridays and Saturdays as well.”

As troubling as the perceived under-reporting of domestic violence incidents are across the nation, a greater problem is the lack of shelters available to LGBT people and referring organizations like BRAVO.

“It’s extremely difficult for transgender individuals,” Heath said. “An issue we’ve found in the past is some programs have said that they would shelter transgender women, but they would only take transgender women who are post-operative, which is a tremendous problem.”

He noted that there are some programs that accept transgendered people based on self-identification as opposed to surgical status, “but those are few and far between.”

“It’s also extremely difficult to find shelters who will take men in as well,” he noted. “Overall, it’s difficult for all people, but particularly men and transgender.”

Heath also pointed out that lesbians are faced with the quandary of whether they will identify themselves as queer, discuss the gender of their partner and other issues that would indicate that they are lesbians.

“It’s always an issue of whether the woman stays in the closet,” he said. “Depending on the program and how well-trained their staff is, it affects the ability of women to find care.”

Nationally, the 12 agencies that contributed to the report noted 3,534 incidents of domestic violence, a 15 percent decrease over 2005 incident reports. Los Angeles reported 2,243 incidents, followed by San Francisco with 420 and New York City with 401.



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