LGBTQ Crime Victims Neglected by Nation's Victim Support System, Says Landmark Report

Washington, DC--The National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs today released Why It Matters: Rethinking Victim Assistance for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Victims of Hate Violence and Intimate Partner Violence. This groundbreaking report, the product of a 2009 survey of victim assistance providers and LGBTQ anti-violence programs throughout  the nation, describes widespread gaps in victim services for LGBTQ victims of crime and recommends steps to improve the services and their accessibility. The Why It Matters survey found that LGBTQ victims do not have consistent access to culturally competent services to prevent or help victims recover from violence. Most respondent organizations lack outreach to LGBTQ victims, LGBTQ cultural competence training for staff, LGBTQ-specific victim services polices and practices, and collaboration with LGBTQ providers. Too often, mainstream victim assistance agencies do not provide a culturally sensitive response to these victims, and LGBTQ-specific anti-violence programs either lack resources to meet the need or simply do not exist. As a result, LGBTQ victims suffer disproportionately from violence and its aftereffects.

"This first-of-its-kind report reveals major deficiencies in our nation's response to LGBTQ victims of crime," said Jeff Dion, acting executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime. "We hope our collaboration with NCAVP will begin a long-overdue process of addressing the serious problems this report describes."

Solving these problems, the report argues, requires eliminating the obstacles that prevent LGBTQ victims from reporting crimes and accessing victim services. Law enforcement agencies often underestimate the levels of violence against these victims, and the victims--fearing discrimination and further consequences--often hesitate to report intimate partner or hate-crime violence, or to seek victim services.

The report recommends increased support for LGBTQ-focused training, education for service providers and first responders, as well as further study to determine the specific needs of LGBTQ victims and the prevalence of crimes against them. It also recommends increased collaboration among LGBTQ anti-violence programs and mainstream victim assistance providers, changes to ensure equal access to state and federal protections for LGBTQ crime victims, outreach to increase public awareness of the extent and impact of the victimization of this community, and increased state and federal funding for these efforts.

"Why It Matters offers a roadmap for a journey our nation must take to address the serious gaps in services for LGBTQ victims of violence," said Sharon Stapel, executive director of the NYC Anti-Violence Project, coordinator of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. "At a time when the severity of hate-violence against LGBTQ people is increasing, when new federal legislation demands closer attention to hate crimes and the gaps in services are widening as programs lose funding, this report offers significant solutions to meet the urgent need for better victim services for LGBTQ communities."

To download the full report (Why It Matters: Rethinking Victim Assistance for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Victims of Hate Violence and Intimate Partner Violence ), visit www.ncvc.org or www.avp.org