Champions of LGBTQ life and culture in Rochester, NY since 1973.
Tuesday December 12th 2017



Opinion: Intimate partner violence knows no bounds

Jaime Saunders

By Jaime Saunders, President & CEO of Willow Domestic Violence Center, 24/7 Hotline: 222-SAFE (7233)

Intimate partner violence is all around us and in all forms of relationships.

It is very dangerous, as our community just witnessed with the tragic homicide of a transgender man in Gates in early September.

Monroe County each year nearly 50,000 calls are made to 911 for domestic disputes.

Nationally, we know one in three women and one in four men will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime. As pervasive as these figures are, they are even worse for the LGBTQ population.

Intimate Partner Violence is about the power and control of one person over another. The abuse comes in many forms – emotional, verbal, financial and physical – and often does not start till well into a relationship.

Key tools of this power and control are isolation and fear: two things many LGBTQ individuals face on a daily basis from systemic discrimination for just being who they are. This adds to the barriers of leaving an abusive relationship.

There are a variety of reasons that LGBTQ individuals are victimized at higher rates:

  • Many LGBTQ individuals have been subjected to abuse from a young age – perhaps rejected by their family, subjected to emotional abuse because of their identity, or been told that who they are is unacceptable. This baseline of discrimination can increase the risk of trauma later in life.
  • Lack of family support and disproportionate rates of homelessness can increase dependence on an abusive partner for protection, housing, and income – making it even harder to leave and get out safely.
  • Abusive partners may threaten to ‘out’ victims who are not ‘out’ to family members, employers, community members and others.
  • Additionally, LGBTQ individuals are less likely to feel comfortable calling police or telling medical or service providers that they need help.


Even well-intentioned service providers like Willow, who want to help, often miss the mark. Proud of our agency’s role at the forefront of the domestic violence and women’s movements in the 1970s, our name Alternatives for Battered Women unintentionally excluded key populations who needed us – prompting us to change our name in 2015 to the more inclusive Willow Center. We needed to do better and we are committed to doing just that. Not just in name, but also in how we operate to ensure we are accessible and supportive as we can be for all survivors of intimate partner violence.

It is important that we as a community recognize intimate partner violence can be in every type of relationship. It is important that we continue to take a stand that abuse is abuse and it is never OK.

We are here to help. We believe you, without judgement. We stand with you.

Willow Center’s confidential 24/7 Hotline is (585) 222-SAFE (7233).