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LGBTQ Outreach

Vera House is proud to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning survivors of violence.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE

  • People of all sexual orientations and gender identities can be victims of sexual violence.
  • People of all sexual orientations and gender identities can be perpetrators of sexual violence.
  • No one asks to be raped.  Even if you just met someone or were already engaged in sexual activity, you always have the right to say "no" or "stop".
  • Laws regarding rape and sexual assault are very complicated.  Legal definitions for what happened may not match our understanding of what we survived.
  • When a sexual assault survivor is male or the attacker is female, friends, family, law enforcement, medical professionals, etc. may need to challenge their understanding of gender roles in order to be responsive and supportive to survivors.
  • Sexual violence can happen in the context of intimate partner abuse or as part of anti-LGBTQ hate violence.
  • Abusive partners often use sexual violence as a tool to maintain power and control in a relationship.  This can be in the form of sexual assault or rape, including:
    • attacking a survivor's genitals
    • touching parts of the survivor's body which are off limits
    • not respecting sexual boundaries
    • denying sexual activity or shaming the survivor about their sexuality
  • Sexual assault or rape can also be part of a hate crime against someone who is LGBTQ.  Many times people choose targets based on perceptions about sexual orientation or gender identity.

INTIMATE PARTNER ABUSE

  • Approximately 20-30% of LGBTQ people report experiencing abuse by intimate partners.  This rate is similar to that reported by heterosexual women
  • Have you ever hurt your partner, or been afraid or concerned that you might hurt your partner? Have you ever felt afraid of being hurt by your partner or have you ever been hurt by your partner? Click HERE to view our "Am I Being Abusive" and "Am I Being Abused" checklists

 BIAS RELATED VIOLENCE/HATE CRIMES

  • Hate crimes (also known as bias motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity or political affiliation. 
  • Hate Crime incidents may involve one or more of the following:
    • Physical assault
    • Sexual assault
    • Damage to property
    • Verbal abuse or insults
    • Bullying
    • Harassment (including threats, slander & name calling)
    • Offensive graffiti or letters

WHAT TO DO IF YOU EXPERIENCE A HATE CRIME

  • Hate crimes are rarely reported because victims of these crimes often feel ashamed, alone, and like nothing can be done.  You are not alone.  Reporting Hate Crimes is important for your safety.
    • Call 911 in an emergency
    • Contact your police force directly - by phoning your local police station or the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department
    • Be clear that you think the attack was motivated by prejudice
    • You may need to ask to speak with a higher ranking officer, a Sergeant, Lieutenant or shift supervisor to get the attention that the situation merits

STEPS TO TAKE ACTION

  • A Vera House Victim Advocate can partner with you to navigate the criminal justice system and access resources available to crime victims.
  • Regardless of whether a person is charged with an offense or not, the police can also:
    • Provide general crime prevention advice
    • Inform local authorities in the event of offensive graffiti to ensure its prompt removal
    • Analyze reported incidents to indentify trends
  • When you report an incident the police will:
    • Make a record of the incident
    • Investigate to see if there is sufficient evidence
    • Interview any suspects
    • Keep you updated on how the case is progressing

SEEKING HELP FROM SOMEONE WHO IS SAFE

  • Vera House service providers work to understand that LGBTQ survivors may share some common feelings when reaching out for help:
    • Feel afraid of being forced to "come out" if they approach their family, the courts, or the police to report their sexual assault or experience of domestic violence.
    • Feel that they are betraying their LGBTQ community by accusing another LGBTQ person of sexual assault or partner abuse.
    • Feel that they have nowhere to turn for help and fear hostile responses from the police, courts, service providers and therapists, because of homophobia and anti-LGBTQ bias.
    • Feel that they could be exposing their assailant/abuser to a criminal justice system that may be homophobic.

REACHING OUT FOR HELP

  • Please contact one of these resources if you or a loved one needs help:

Vera House 24-Hour Crisis & Support Lines
315-468-3260 
315-484-7263 (TTY for Deaf community - during business hours)

NYS Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline
800-942-6906 

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
800-656-HOPE
www.rainn.org

National Domestic Violence Hotline
800-799-7233

NYC Anti-Violence Project
24-hour, bilingual hotline for LGBTQ people experiencing any form of violence or harassment
212-714-1141
www.avp.org

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
www.ncavp.org

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
www.transgenderlegal.org

LEGAL ISSUES

  • New York State & Federal Law impacting people who identify as LGBTQ is constantly changing and evolving.
  • The New York State Legislature has provided some important protections for LGBTQ couples:
    • Hospital visitation rights
    • Legal Authority to control a loved one's bodily remains
    • Access to family court for order of protection
  • Click HERE for information about Statewide Relationship Recognition, Orders of Protection, Marriage & Family Protections and other legal issues pertaining to those identifying as LGBTQ

ENSURING YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS

  • If you need help navigating the justice system as a victim of sexual assault, relationship violence or any other crime including hate crimes, Vera House advocates are available by calling our 24-hour support line, 315-468-3260.
  • For more comprehensive information about ensuring your legal rights in New York State, please visit the following websites:

 

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