For those gays, dykes, queers, trans, sex and gender diverse folks who live in regional, rural or remote areas, accessing appropriate and friendly support services can be extremely difficult.

Often the main form of support for LGBTIQ people living in these areas would be close friends and partners who know of, and are supportive of, their sex, gender or sexuality difference.

However, when there is a domestic violence situation, these support networks can shut down.

People experiencing relationship abuse may be too frightened to seek help as their only connections to the LGBTI community may be their partner. If they are not out to other friends, family or the community, they may stay in the abusive relationship rather than seek help and be outed.

“Tom and I lived on such a big property that our neighbour’s house was a five-minute drive away. When the emotional abuse and the verbals insults started to occur I felt so isolated. No one knew we were in a relationship, so I didn’t have anyone to talk to. It all started to escalate when after an argument he took my keys, and locked me in the house. He drove off and left me there for two whole days.” Eric

When the LGBTIQ community is small and close-knit in regional, rural and remote areas, it may also be harder for people to disclose relationship abuse for fear of alienating themselves from their small community.

“I didn’t want to tell our only lesbian friends that Sharon was being abusive towards me. I didn’t think they would even believe me because they loved Sharon, they were all best friends.” Rachel

For all LGBTIQ people who live in NSW the Safe Relationships Project is a statewide support service for people experiencing or escaping domestic violence.

info: Contact the Safe Relationships Project www.iclc.org.au/srp 02 9332 1966 or 1800 244 481. Kate Duffy is the Project Officer of the Safe Relationships Project and a solicitor at the Inner City Legal Centre.

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