Everyone Deserves to Feel Safe

When it comes to abusive relationships, domestic violence doesn’t discriminate on which couples it effects. Pride Foundation is proud of our relationship with Bradley Angle, a longtime grantee and champion for survivors of domestic violence. Bradley Angle is the first domestic violence shelter on the West Coast. They provide a continuum of domestic violence and sexual assault support services for survivors and their children, serving individuals and families of all backgrounds, cultures, ages, and sexual orientations.

Lupita Mendez is the Healthy Relationships Program Advocate there and recently filled me in on what she’s been up to, and she needs our opinions.

Lupita has been teaching the eight-week Healthy Relationships Class three times a year for the past two years with the first class began in May 2010. In the last year, they’ve had over forty graduates. She says the program has been “really successful” and that they have had “tons of positive feedback.” The program has been so impactful that they are going to be adding more prevention-focused programming. This is where Lupita needs our help. She is looking for your opinion and input on a survey she created. She needs our help in figuring out how to best serve our community’s needs. One of the things that she’s hoping to do is have more follow-up programs like these workshops.

One of the most rewarding aspects of her work is how creative she gets to be with Bradley Angle’s programming. Lupita says “queer relationship dynamics can be so different from the dynamics of heterosexual relationships” and that “a lot of the traditional domestic violence service models just don’t fit our community.”

Lupita is a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community and doesn’t believe that a one-size fits all model of services is the solution to ending domestic violence. She needs our help in thinking outside the box and helping her focus on what our community needs. Bradley Angle wants to have the most culturally relevant and beneficial programming for the LGBTQ community. They have already been recognized as a national model for the cutting edge programmatic work in their Healthy Relationships Workshop, and now it’s our turn to help them with the next step. Lupita stresses that “it is really important that the services we are providing to the LGBTQ community are the services they want and need.”

Domestic violence happens at the same rates in LGBTQ relationships as it does in heterosexual relationships. Part of Lupita’s work is dispelling the myth that domestic violence doesn’t occur in same sex relationships. She says there is a large stigma attached to talking about domestic violence in same sex relationships and that “for too long LGBTQ relationships haven’t been recognized as equal to straight couples.” She believes there is “a fear that talking about these important issues will have an adverse effect on the positive gains the movement has made.” A large piece of the work that Lupita does is community education–helping to raise the visibility of partner violence in the LGBTQ community, erasing the stigma, and dispelling myths.

Bradley Angle’s new executive director, Deborah Steikopf is a staunch ally for the LGBTQ community and affirms their organizational mission of empowering and enabling healthy and loving relationships, stating “[a]t Bradley Angle we believe in the right of all people to demand the loving and supportive intimate relationships we all deserve.” Bradley Angle continues to dedicate their work to providing support and advocacy to all survivors of domestic violence, regardless of their relationship status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

Jett Johnson is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Oregon. Email Jett.

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