A new report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)  shows that LGBTQ people are more likely to be victims of interpersonal, intimate violence, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report, LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence and COVID-19, shows how rates of intimate partner violence—which are already higher for members of the LGBTQ community—are likely to increase during COVID-19 due to isolation and stress.

Back in April, the American Psychological Association released a guide detailing risk factors for domestic violence that can be exacerbated by COVID-19, like “reduced access to resources, increased stress due to job loss or strained finances, and disconnection from social support systems.” According to studies referenced by HRC’s report, these problems disproportionately impact LGBTQ people.

Data from the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey and the 2015 US Transgender Survey reveal that LGBTQ people experience domestic violence at a disproportionate rate. Forty-four percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of straight women. More than half (54 percent) of transgender and non-binary respondents to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey also experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.

Not only that, but LGBTQ people are also more likely to be affected by financial stressors: only 21 percent of LGBTQ adults reported feeling satisfied about their current financial situation in the General Social Survey, compared to 33 percent of non-LGBTQ adults.

“Our isolated environment, as well as the numerous financial and additional stressors brought by COVID-19, creates an increased risk of intimate partner violence—a risk which is that much higher for LGBTQ people,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “COVID-19 has impacted the financial stability and wellness of individuals and families everywhere. Advocates, lawmakers, and the general public must seriously consider the impact this pandemic has had on the rates of interpersonal violence and look to ways to address this issue from a legislative, data, and cultural level.”

To address the disproportionate violence faced by the LGBTQ community, HRC is urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which would provide explicit protections for LGBTQ people, Native women, and undocumented immigrants.

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