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Domestic abuse and sexual violence against transgender and non-binary people surges

Exclusive: ‘He thought, ‘now you’re a man, I can treat you like one.’ They try to weaponise your identity as if it’s your fault,” victim says

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
Friday 06 January 2023 17:10 GMT
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Campaigners warned they are hearing reports of abusers wielding transgender identity as an excuse to perpetrate violence and abuse
Campaigners warned they are hearing reports of abusers wielding transgender identity as an excuse to perpetrate violence and abuse (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Reports of domestic abuse and sexual violence against transgender and non-binary people has surged by 18 per cent, according to new data.

Figures, provided by Victim Support, show reports of domestic and sexual violence against trans and non-binary people jumped from 266 in 2020/21 to 315 in 2021/2022.

The data, which the national charity shared exclusively with The Independent, includes victims who seek help from Victim Support, as well as those who are referred to the organisation by the police.

The charity warned they are hearing reports of abusers using their victim’s transgender identity as an excuse to be violent and abusive to them.

A man told of how his long-term partner, who is the father of his child, started abusing him after he transitioned.

“He thought, ‘now you are a man, I can treat you like one.’ They try to weaponise your identity as if it’s your fault,” he said.

“I’m still building up my confidence in who I am. It makes it much harder to deal with as you are not just dealing with your transition, but you are also questioning whether it’s your own fault because you are transgender.

“He said I was ‘mental’, and there’s that little voice in your head that says ‘maybe they’re right, maybe I am mental.’”

After he contacted Victim Support, he was given an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) who connected him with services to enable him to flee his abusive partner.

He said: “I received support once or twice a week for quite a long time as, even after I left him, the issues continued. It was great to have a safe space to talk to someone without any judgement.

“It was just having that person that accepted me for me. That is the one thing with Victim Support, they have never had a problem with my gender identity, which has been amazing.

“To have somebody be like, ‘OK, you can vent.’ Having that person who has got your back, which makes such a difference when you feel on your own.”

Victim Support delivers free, confidential help for survivors via its domestic abuse and sexual violence services.

Valerie Wise, the national domestic abuse lead at Victim Support, said: “It’s important to realise that domestic abuse and sexual violence aren’t issues that only affect cisgender women.

“We are seeing an increasing number of transgender and non-binary victims who are coming forward in desperate need of support.”

She noted often abusers can be the only person in a trans or non-binary person’s life who acknowledges “their identity which can be used to further intensify their coercive and controlling behaviours”.

Ms Wise added: “As a result, victims often require specialist emotional and psychological support to help them cope.”

New Census data released on Friday shows more than 250,000 people in England and Wales identify as transgender.

The Census 2021 pressed Britons about their gender identity and sexual orientation for the first time in two centuries of collecting data.

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