LGBT+ domestic abuse refuge centre named for Stonewall pioneers Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera opens
London’s The Outside Project has opened a new LGBT+ domestic abuse refuge, named for transgender pioneers Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.
The grassroots organisation, which in 2018 opened the UK’s first LGBT+ homeless shelter and community centre, announced the Star Refuge on Monday (July 27).
The domestic-abuse refuge is named to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera’s STAR House, the shelter for homeless queer youth founded by the pair in New York in 1970.
“The Outside Project have opened a domestic abuse refuge for London’s LGBTIQ+ community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the group said.
“If you ever feel like you need to stay somewhere else for your own safety or wellbeing then you are right. Don’t wait. To discuss your options and refer into our refuge contact our partner agencies.”
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Domestic abuse reports surged during the coronavirus lockdown, which presented serious safety risks for people, especially women, living with an abusive partner.
A surge in cases was seen across the UK in April, prompting a cross-party group of MPs to call on the government to create an emergency package of funding for support services for domestic abuse victims and vulnerable children.
Also in April, it was reported that there had been 4,000 arrests for domestic abuse in just six weeks. Charges for domestic abuse were up by almost a quarter from the time the lockdown was announced compared with the same time period in 2019.
Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women face unique forms of manipulation from abusers relating to their sexual orientation or gender identity, such as the threat of being outed to family or withholding of hormones.
Trans survivors are particularly vulnerable, according to two women who work in the UK’s domestic-abuse sector, because “the slow drip of transphobia [is] shutting out domestic abuse survivors who are statistically most likely to need access to lifesaving refuges and shelters”.
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Sixteen per cent of trans women experienced domestic abuse in the last year, alongside 7.5 per cent of cisgender women.
Stonewall Housing can be found online here or on 020 7359 5767. Galop’s LGBT+ domestic-violence helpline is 020 7697 4081.