Domestic violence and human trafficking can affect people of all backgrounds. However, not all populations of survivors have equal access to recovery—countless factors contribute to a person’s ability to find support, and there are a number of populations for whom reaching out for help is especially difficult.
One such population is LGBTQIA survivors. Our society’s commonly accepted narrative of domestic violence is heavily gendered, portraying women as victims and men as perpetrators. So what happens when your experience with abuse doesn’t fit neatly into that structure? What if in your situation, both the person causing harm and the person being harmed are women? Or both men? Often these experiences are dismissed as not “real” abuse, causing survivors in same-gender relationships to struggle to find help. Along similar lines, transgender survivors might not seek help due to common misconceptions surrounding gender identity, fearing their gender won’t be respected, their experiences will be doubted, they will experience further violence, or they’ll be assumed to be an abuser themselves.
Another underserved population in our community is survivors who are reentering society from the prison system. Whether a survivor is in prison in connection to their abuse (self-defense, forced sex work/sex trafficking, coerced drug use, etc.), or due to a completely unrelated situation, they often have unique recovery needs that address the trauma of incarceration. Often, however, they are left without resources and without support, having to choose between returning to the person who caused them harm or ending up unhoused. Some service providers additionally have eligibility restrictions barring people with criminal backgrounds from participating in their programs, leaving this vulnerable population without access to the resources to heal.
Survivors with immigration concerns also have unique barriers that often prevent them from accessing services. These survivors might have language barriers, they might expect not to be able to receive services due to their citizenship status, or they might be afraid that seeking help will directly lead to imprisonment or deportation. This issue is compounded when a survivor’s immigration status is used as a method of maintaining control in an abusive situation. In both domestic violence and human trafficking situations, the person causing harm might use citizenship status to isolate the survivor, taking control of identification paperwork and threatening deportation if they leave. Social isolation and fear of legal consequences of their residency in the US often leave these survivors without an avenue for recovery support.
There are countless other populations with equally restricted access to services, and while WTLC makes it a priority to be available to all survivors, we know there continue to be ways in which we can improve our accessibility. Because of this, we are committed to continually taking a critical look at our programs to identify areas where we can do better. We also prioritize flexibility across programs, recognizing that each survivor’s unique experience with domestic violence and human trafficking will require an equally unique response. All survivors deserve the resources to heal from situations of violence and exploitation, and it is crucial that we make sure resources for recovery are available to everyone. For more information on our services, contact [email protected] or (877) 531-5522.