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Kansas City group opens rare LGBTQ domestic violence center

Advocates say understanding in public understanding and relationships among LGBTQ populations and government have improved somewhat since Congress in 2013 included them in the Violence Against Women Act. The law now requires shelters to take LGBTQ domestic violence victims, while providing federal funding for some advocacy organizations and allowing states to use grants to improve responses to domestic violence.

Though based in Kansas City, the KCAVP trains people who work with LGBTQ domestic violence victims throughout Kansas and Missouri and is contracted to do some training in Iowa and Nebraska. But if domestic violence victims in Iowa and Nebraska call, the center’s staff members can only connect them with people and resources in those states, Shaw said.

“It weighs heavily on us that we are not able to do more …” he said. “But because of the federal changes, service providers in all states are starting to realize they have to provide those services to everyone if they want to continue to receive federal funding.”

Most LGBTQ domestic violence victims to rely on mainstream domestic violence programs and shelters, Jindasurant said.

And Joyce Grover, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, notes that many of them do not feel comfortable at traditional communal-living shelters, which largely house heterosexual women. So, several organizations have already been working for years to train shelter staff about their needs, she said, and the 2013 federal changes help.

“To me, the KCAVP project is one more step moving us forward,” she said.

The larger goal remains teaching the public that domestic violence is widespread and involves power and control, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to Ruth Glenn, the executive director of the nonprofit National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

One in three women and one in four men have been physically abused by an intimate partner in their lifetimes and on a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive about 20,800 calls, according to coalition statistics.

“(The Kansas City center) is a good sign that there may be some improvements” Glenn said. “But I hesitate to say that because I’m aware we have a long way to go.”

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