First Published: February 2006
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.

Somewhere between a quarter and third of all LGBTs will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives - often when still at home with family or whilst living with a partner. OutUK’s Adrian Gillan asks support service Broken Rainbow what stops us reporting and what help is at hand.
A free and confidential Helpline is just one of the services Broken Rainbow delivers. As well as helping LGBT people directly in this way, the organisation has also helped mainstream domestic violence agencies to better understand the needs of LGBT people and thereby provide us all with better services.
Mainstream domestic violence campaigns are normally solely directed at heterosexuals and tend to be heterosexist in language. Moreover, though mainstream crime-reporting systems may increasingly encourage LGBT people to report violent incidents, they rarely make mention of domestic violence.

“Same-sex domestic abuse is hugely unreported,” admits DC Forsyth from the Community Safety Unit at Kingston Police Station which has been conducting an awareness campaign. “I would encourage anyone living with domestic abuse to contact their local Police Station and speak to a member of its Community Safety Unit. Police can offer help and support on numerous levels to reduce and remove the fear of domestic abuse.”

Thankfully, often with Broken Rainbow’s support, more and more mainstream agencies - and not just police - are now taking LGBT domestic violence seriously and are working on improving their overall services.

“Deciding to leave the abusive relationship may bring a whole new set of problems,” relates Kate Blackshaw, LGBT outreach worker at Victim Support Kensington & Chelsea, another mainstream organisation now committed to helping tackle the issue. “There may then be harassment and threats by the ex-partner, financial hardship, housing problems and even homelessness. We can be there to help, whether it be liaising or advocating - on behalf of the survivor - with housing departments and the police; giving information about other sources of help, or simply offering emotional support through a difficult time. What we will not do is make judgements or give advice based on what we think is ‘best’ for the victim.”

Broken Rainbow has also been highly effective in lobbying behind the scenes, advising on new legislation. It was consulted by the Home Office on the new Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 which thankfully now gives LGBTs many of the civil and criminal remedies already available to heterosexuals.

Future Plans

Broken Rainbow received an £120k Home Office grant to help set up their Helpline. Police services - especially the Met here in London - have also provided significant support. Its next goal is to set up the first emergency refuges for LGBTs. Police officers are often frustrated about the lack of refuge services for queers, especially guys. Bemoans Verrier: “Without the provision of somewhere safe to go, many are often forced to remain with the violence. This is a large gap in support that Broken Rainbow is pushing very hard to close.”

Verrier also wants to expand the Helpline into a 24/7 service, offer additional face-to-face support and set up “survivor” groups nationwide. He is currently searching for volunteers with the expertise required to identify - and apply for - the necessary funding.



For confidential support and information about domestic violence, phone the Broken Rainbow Helpline on 020 8539 9507, Mon-Fri 9am-1pm & 2pm-5pm (Minicom: 020 8539 9521)

If you want to help Broken Rainbow in any way, contact them on or by writing to The Co-Chairs, Broken Rainbow, Community Place, 806 High Road, London E10 6AE. Broken Rainbow is a registered charity and donations by cheque or postal order are always welcome, made out to: ‘Broken Rainbow LGBT Domestic Violence Service (UK)’

Sigma Research recently conducted a survey of incidents domestic violence in the UK. You can read the full survey results at


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