During Pride Month, observed every June, we shine a light on the progress and achievements made by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer+ (LGBTQ+) communities. The celebrations during Pride also often raise awareness of issues that continue to impact LGBTQ+ people.  

Being able to form and maintain strong, healthy relationships is a basic need for all people. But we know that, unfortunately, people who identify as LGBTQ+ are at greater risk of sexual and intimate partner violence (IPV) throughout their lives. This is not because LGBTQ+ relationships are more violent or abusive than others. Rather, LGBTQ+ people, like people from other marginalized identities, experience violence and abuse at higher rates related to heightened vulnerability. Abuse is about an imbalance of power and control. We need to ensure that individuals have the abilities and tools to form healthy relationships and seek help without stigma. 

Supporting Healthy Relationships

Understanding the basics involved in forming healthy relationships is an often-overlooked component of preventing IPV and sexual violence in every community. Fortunately, in Philadelphia, the Mazzoni Center’s Affirming Hearts Academy runs an LGBTQ+ Healthy Relationship group that does just that.  

This program teaches the characteristics of healthy relationships, consent, navigating conflict and boundaries, and more. People who have completed the program report increased confidence to create healthy and affirming relationships. One person shared, “Mazzoni is on the cutting edge by producing and providing such a necessary, valuable, and relevant learning series. I would have signed up for this class in a heartbeat if I saw this offered at the LGBT clinics or centers in LA or NYC when I was living there.” 

Opportunities for Professionals

Related to this, Mazzoni Center also offers LGBTQ+ IPV trainings for professionals. The tools and knowledge in these trainings can be especially important for LGBTQ+ organizations. These spaces are often LGBTQ+ survivors’ first points of contact in a crisis. Mazzoni Center is a proud member of Shared Safety, Philadelphia’s Coordinated Community Response to relational violence in Philadelphia. Together, with over thirty other City and non-profit agencies in Philadelphia, Shared Safety works to improve the systems that survivors go to for help.  

The new Shared Safety LGBTQ+ Working Group will connect LGBTQ+ organizations to Shared Safety to increase support and skills around IPV in the LGBTQ+ community. “This working group will be a wonderful opportunity to engage with other organizations to ensure LGBTQ+ folks have someone who is affirming and ready to help them wherever they go – whether that be an IPV organization or a LGBTQ+ center. We are very much looking forward to the first meeting,” says May Booth, Lead Education Specialist at Mazzoni Center. 

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