SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Over half of people in the LGBTQIA+ community will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to Donovan Edward, the vice chair of the Board of Directors for First City Pride Center in Savannah.
Edward shared several other startling statistics, telling News 3 that LGBTQ people are at an elevated risk for domestic violence.
The main reason, they say, is isolation.
“Lesbian women are actually at a really high risk of intimate partner violence, followed by bisexual women,” Edward said. “But transgender people are actually where we see a lot of intimate partner violence. They are actually two times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience intimate partner violence, both sexual and physical.”
“We have some areas like First City Pride Center in Savannah where we have connection and support, but Georgia is full of a lot of rural areas where you might be the only LGBTQ person you know,” Edward continued.
Candace Hardnett, the chair of a Savannah-based taskforce for the LGBTQ community, says abuse can often occur as part of a cycle, specifically when it comes to people whose loved ones don’t accept their identity – or those who haven’t accepted themselves.
“It comes from within the LGBT community, outside of the LGBT community. There are people who pretend that they don’t like LGBTQ people, but, in essence, they do,” Hardnett said. “And because they’re having an issue, an internal issue with themselves, they become quite abusive to the object they’re finding attractive.”
Hardnett, who is also a pastor, says religious beliefs can contribute to a lack of acceptance from family, as well as abusive behavior.
“How many times I’ve heard stories of people being hit and kicked out and devastated, and I guess the word would be humiliated by their own parents. Being taken to churches and brought to the front of the church in front of an entire congregation to ‘pray the gay away,'” she said.
Some consider conversion camps or religious programs that attempt to suppress or change a person’s sexual orientation to also be a form of abuse.
For those who have experienced domestic violence, Hardnett says talking it through with a professional is the best option.
“You know, I am a pastor that believes in Jesus and therapy at the same time. They’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, they work very well together,” she said.
Visit here for a list provided by the First City Pride Center of crime resources and domestic violence shelters.