Throughout the report, the right side margin presents brief but poignant stories of individual experiences of domestic violence.
The report provides an inclusive definition of domestic violence as encompassing "a set of behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control another"[p.4] and argues that while gender inequality is a significant factor in domestic violence affecting heterosexual women, it is not necessarily an "intrinsic part of domestic violence itself"[p.4]. The report explains how the term "same-sex domestic violence" applies only to one portion of LGBT relationships as many LGBT individuals form close relationships with people who are not of the same gender identity.
The report argues that domestic violence affecting LGBT individuals is widely underreported and describes some of the numerous barriers victims face, not the least of which is the prevalent belief that domestic violence does not occur in LGBT relationships. This belief is perpetuated by such myths as women don't abuse or the myth that "same-sex" partner abuse is often "mutual". Other barriers discussed in the report include that LGBT victims face: poor or inconsistent law enforcement response due to inadequate training on responding to LGBT domestic violence calls or expressions of homophobia by some police officers; little or no access to family courts to acquire civil protection orders or to address child custody issues (which leaves only the criminal court system options); and, fear of being "outed" as reinforced by multiple social experiences and a lack of meaningful civil rights protections for LGBT people throughout most of the U.S.. Also discussed is the lack of accessible and sensitive services because a majority of domestic violence services are focused predominantly towards the needs of heterosexual (often white) women with staff that are not necessarily trained or prepared to provide competent response to the needs of the diversity of LGBT individuals. Additionally, where LGBT sensitive services exist, they lack of funds and resources to provide outreach and services in diverse ways that ensure cultural, linguistic and social competancy.
Given such significant barriers to LGBT victims in accessing competent domestic violence support, the report still documents that 12 community-based anti-violence organizations had 4,048 cases of domestic violence, a 29.7% increase from the 3,120 reported cases in 1999. Increases are largely attributed to increased resources made available to a few participant agencies, in particular, in Los Angeles,CA, that enabled increased outreach and service provision.
The report statistics are broken out by number of cases reported and brief contexts of murder cases and by the victim's gender identity (male, female, unknown, transgender F/M, transgender M/F), sexual orientation (heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian / gay, unknown, unsure), age, and race / ethnicity (African American, Arab / Middle Eastern, Asian / Pacific Islander, Latina/o, Multiracial, Native American, White, Jewish, Other, Unknown ).
Nine local report descriptions are provided from Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Colorado; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Minnesota; New York, NY; Cleveland, OH; and, Columbus, OH.
Policy recommendations discussed include that Americans: enact legally inclusive definitions of family; enact LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination legislation; increase access to public and private funding for LGBT domestic violence services and research; adopt LGBT-inclusive standards of service; and, train more service providers about LGBT domestic violence concerns. Additionally, other domestic violence service providers are encouraged to access training resources offered by LGBT agencies.
The U.S. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is a network of 27 community-based organizations with the primary mission of responding to violence affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and HIV-affected individuals. NCAVP documents and advocates for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence and harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct, and other forms of victimization.