What are the types of violence the AVP responds to?
AVP was created in response to anti-gay attacks, and we continue to have a strong focus on violence against LGBTQH communities. These cases range from discrimination and verbal harassment to assault and murder. This work is more important now than ever, as reports of violence increase and include a multiple-year trend in the murders of transgender people and people of color in New York City and across the country. AVP’s innovative “Hate Violence? Tell Us About It” campaign allows survivors of harassment and violence to report the violence to AVP on the phone, in person or securely online, even if they do not want to go to the police.
Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence is as serious and prevalent a problem in LGBTQH communities, as it is in other communities. AVP provides services specifically designed for victims and survivors of LGBTQH domestic/intimate partner violence and our “Domestic Violence: We Can Help” campaign raises awareness of this issue and our services. AVP also collaborated with the largest provider of domestic violence shelter in New York City to create the first dedicated LGBTQH domestic violence shelter, to provide safe and respectful emergency shelter for LGBTQH victims and survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence.
AVP provides the only counseling services in New York City specifically designed to support LGBTQH survivors of sexual violence. Most mainstream rape crisis centers are unaware of, or uneducated about, issues affecting members of the LGBTQH community, particularly masculine-identified survivors of sexual violence. AVP not only counsels survivors referred by other agencies but also trains other agencies how to better serve LGBTQH communities. We know that, because of stigma surrounding sexual abuse, many LGBTQH survivors never report or seek services for this violence. AVP’s “Sexual Violence: Let’s Talk About It” public awareness campaign reduces the stigma of reporting and increase the supportive services available to LGBTQH survivors of sexual violence.
A person’s real or perceived HIV status can be a disturbingly central factor in a hate violence case or used by a batterer as an instrument of power and control in a violent intimate relationship. To address the distinct problems caused by violence in the lives of people living with HIV in New York City, AVP provides a unique combination of counseling, social and legal services, referrals, advocacy, education and activism specifically focused on the intersection of HIV and violence to hundreds of HIV-affected clients every year. This past year, AVP begun has worked with city and state legislators and agencies, including the NYPD and District Attorney’s Offices, to end the use of condoms of evidence in Criminal Court trials – a policy that criminalizes the possession of condoms as “evidence” of a sex work-related crime in many “stop and frisks” of LGBTQH people. This policy has devastating public health impacts and AVP is working to support legislation that would prohibit the use of condoms as evidence in these situations.
LGBTQH communities often experience discrimination and violence within institutions that provide the first response to violence, such as law enforcement, the court system, hospitals, shelters, and other service providers. Through advocacy and organizing, AVP supports survivors who navigate these systems and addresses homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic policies, procedures, and attitudes within institutions. AVP works to call attention to and change inequities in the law, as well as the inequitable application of the law to LGBTQH people. AVP provides training and technical assistance to increase the cultural competency of first responders and change systems. In 2012 AVP began the first ever training of Sergeants, Lieutenants and Captains at the NYPD and has worked closely with the Police Commissioner and the Office of Legal Counsel to create transgender-inclusive policing policies.