GREENSBORO — Researchers at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (UNCG), aided by funds from the Guilford Green Foundation, are working for a second year to develop resources to offer those in the domestic violence service field information on preventing, supporting and rehabilitating victims and perpetrators of same-sex domestic violence.

The initiative, called Project Safe Love, incorporates counseling services for both victims and their abusers, training for counselors and other professionals, and educational resources.

UNCG is partnering with Family Service of the Piedmont to test the training materials. “Not only can they benefit from the material, but they can give us some feedback,” said Dr. Keith Mobley, a clinical assistant professor who directs Safe Love along with his colleague Dr. Christine Murray.

“Services delivered are generally very heterocentric, but domestic violence is always about issues of power,” said Mobley. “This is an indirect way of addressing issues of oppression in relationships, which is a nationwide problem.”

Mobley said the initiative’s goals in its second year have been to sustain educational and consultation services for mental health practitioners and to also expand the resources to build health relationships.

One part of the project is a study of those in current same-sex relationships, regardless of whether they are cohabitating or living separately. The initiative is seeking participants in the study, the “Couples Resource Map Scales Study.” It is currently available online at www.couplesresourcemap.org/2008study.

The results of the research study will be used to improve Project Safe Love’s training manual for mental health practitioners. The information contained in the manual currently focuses on a variety of issues including social, legal and psychological perspectives; medical, mental health and support services perspectives; the cycle of violence; and information on implications for counselors and various case studies.

Treatment and prevention for violence among LGBT couples is significantly lower than in their heterosexual counterparts. Professionals have often blamed the occurrences on the extreme lack of resources for LGBT families faced by these dilemmas.

In 2003, 6,523 cases of same-sex Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) were reported to 12 U.S. and Canadian agencies affiliated with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Six deaths linked to same-sex IPV were reported that year. Domestic violence among same-sex couples occurs at approximately the same rate as in heterosexual couples — an estimated 25 percent of all relationships involve domestic violence.

Mobley believes one problem in preventing and treating same-sex domestic violence is the tendency of law enforcement to take gay couples’ problems less seriously than those in heterosexual relationships.

Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are also more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to relieve stress related to their sexual orientation. They’re also reluctant to expose themselves by reporting violence. Some abusers, whose partners might be closeted to friends or family, often threaten to “out” the victim if he or she reports the abuse.

“We feel that everybody has a right to safe relationships,” Mobley said. “Our goal is to increase awareness.”

Group needs survey participants
Opposing Abuse with Service, Information and Shelter (OASIS), Watauga County’s anti-domestic and sexual violence organization, is conducting a survey to assess attitudes and beliefs about sexual violence to guide them with future programming for those who lilve, work or go to school in the county. They are specifically want LGBT (and LGBT ally) input.

After completing the survey, you will be given a password. Email Jenny Rowh Fairchild prevention@oasisinc.org with this password to enter a raffle including a free iPOD, gift certificates and other goodies.

info: www.oasisinc.org