Sexual Violence, LGBTQ Community, & Trafficking

This week I was able to participate in a couple of webinars for work- one on domestic violence within the LGBTQ community, and the other on minor sex trafficking.  Because I see such an obvious intersection between sexual violence prevention and intervention and reclaiming healthy and equitable relationships, I wanted to share some of my notes with you all.

-Domestic violence and sexual assault hotlines often include the suggestion to call 911 if someone is experiencing an emergency. This does not really take into account the historical experience of many people of color and LGBTQ folks with the police. What would be a more just way of serving survivors when they call after hours?

-Have any of you seen the Power & Control Wheel? While it is used in many settings and is well liked by many therapists and advocates, it also simplifies the experience of many marginalized groups. The standard wheel definitely captures many common patterns and behaviors within violent and abusive relationships, but when creators have tried to tailor the wheel to different populations, they have not necessarily done a very good job. For instance, the P&C wheel for LGBTQ folks simply layers “homophobia” around the outside of the wheel without actually providing specific examples of how homophobia intersects with experiences of domestic violence.

-Tactics that abusers often use within LGBTQ relationships include: isolating and threatening to out the survivor, using the survivor’s vulnerabilities to keep them from leaving the relationship or reporting abuse, using a survivor’s internal oppression to their advantage, using children as pawns, using the smallness of the LGBTQ community to keep a survivor quiet, leveraging institutional violence to keep a survivor quiet, and playing off of any substance use/abuse that is going on.

-Intersectionality is a big component for any person, and particularly relevant for understanding abusive and violent dynamics within LGBTQ relationships where other marginalized identities exist (ethnic, poly, BDSM). So a queer person of color who is in a D/s relationship and is experiencing nonconsensual abuse will face a much more challenging situation in leaving or reporting the situation than a white straight person in a vanilla relationship.

Sex trafficking is different than consensual sex work. (This of course can get us into a discussion about what consensual means. To me, consensual means a “yes” given by all post-pubescent parties involved. The legal definition of consent, however, is very strict: if you are a minor-18 years- then you cannot legally give consent to sex.)

-Workers often refer to their pimps as “boyfriends” for a variety of reasons: many pimp-worker relationships start off as dating relationships which makes the relationship complex; the word pimp is often stigmatizing so workers often opt to refer pimps as dating partners instead

-The dynamics present within domestic violence and intimate partner violence relationships and trafficking relationships look very, very similar

-The Trafficking Victims Protection Act broadly affords victims rights to trafficking victims, because the Act recognizes trafficking as a crime (no kidding)

three-women

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