TriCo, RSVP discuss domestic violence in LGBT relationships

Domestic violence in LGBT couples tends to go more unnoticed than domestic violence in heterosexual relationships.

The Triangle Coalition partnered with the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center to co-sponsor an event to educate students on domestic violence within the LGBT community Wednesday night.

Domestic violence is an increasing threat nationwide, with nearly one in four women having experienced domestic abuse in her lifetime, according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center.

Within the LGBT community, domestic violence and sex crimes typically go unannounced, said Santiago Vásquez, education and outreach coordinator of the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project. This is because these victims fear rejection from shelters and domestic abuse agencies because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or queer.

Vásquez talked to students in the Women’s Center about domestic violence and hate crimes within the LGBT community. As the education and outreach coordinator, Vásquez trains service providers and visits schools to talk to students, which he said is his favorite part of his job.

A non-profit organization, KCAVP’s purpose is to provide domestic violence, sexual assault and hate crimes advocacy and education to the LGBT community, according to its website.

On a college campus, it is crucial that students are aware of domestic violence, Vásquez said. MU’s diverse population of approximately 35,000 students makes a presence for domestic abuse extremely likely.

“It’s because of safety concerns,” Vásquez said. “When you go to college, you meet so many people, including those who identify as being LGBTQ, and we need to create a healthy environment for everybody.”

Those involved in TriCo and the RSVP Center play a key role in making sure the campus stays safe.

RSVP Coordinator Danica Wolf said she advocates for education as a solution to, not just domestic violence within the LGBT community, but violence as a whole.

“I personally want everyone on campus to know that they can get services [here],” Wolf said. “They deserve to be safe, and they deserve to get help if they are victims of violence.”

TriCo is a student-led organization that strives to educate students on the LGBT community. It is also the longest-standing organization for LGBT students on campus.

“The way I see it, TriCo’s main purpose is to foster a sense of community on campus,” TriCo President Theo Tushaus said. “We’re here as a resource for everyone. You don’t have to be LGBTQ. You can still be an ally.”

Both TriCo and the RSVP Center host a number of events throughout the year to educate students on the LGBT community, sexuality and relationship awareness.

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