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Willow releases toolkit to promote awareness of domestic violence in the LGBTQ+ community

This stock image shows a person's hand holding a rainbow flag, which is known as a symbol of LGBTQ pride.
Adobe Stock
This stock image shows a person's hand holding a rainbow flag, which is known as a symbol of LGBTQ pride.

The LGBTQ+ community experiences domestic violence at higher rates than heterosexuals, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Often those cases are underreported or not reported at all.

“Because of existing homophobia, transphobia, biphobia — it's harder for them to come out and talk about those things that they're experiencing,” said Devone Scala, coordinator of prevention education at Willow Domestic Violence Center.

For the first time, the center honored LGBTQ+ Domestic Violence Awareness Day on May 28, and it did so by providing a “toolkit” for the public to use to help spread awareness.

Willow representatives said the goal is to ensure that people in the queer community are “seen and believed” when dealing with this issue.

“At Willow, we're trying to change the narrative and give a voice to those who don’t have as loud of a voice in our community,” said Lisa Nolan, director of prevention education at Willow.

The global day of awareness originated in Australia four years ago to highlight the unique challenges that people in the queer community encounter when faced with domestic violence. Nolan said these challenges are often the result of underrepresentation.

“They have less safe and comfortable access to things like health care, social support, and family support, (thus) we have an overrepresentation in things like violence,” Nolan said.

The toolkit explains how to better assist those in the queer community who may be experiencing domestic violence by providing tips and highlighting resources.

“It's important how you identify and who you are as a person,” Nolan said. “But that doesn't matter when we're talking about domestic violence because this is an issue that touches everybody.”

Racquel Stephen is WXXI's health, equity and community reporter and producer. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.