Bridgewater organizations learned about the issues and stereotypes of intimate partner violence in the queer community at the Bridgewater YMCA on Jan. 24.
The workshop was organized by Julie Veinot, executive director and health educator at Sexual Health Lunenburg County and hosted by Adri Bravo, intimate partner violence prevention coordinator at the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.
Bravo began the workshop by explaining gender and sexuality, as not everyone understands the subject to the same level, she said.
“We always cover … a gender and sexuality 101 component, sort of like a crash course on this topic. We do that because for some folks, the material might be a refresher, but for others it’s not — so this is a time that we make sure everyone's on the same page,” Bravo said.
She said she then explains the dynamics of intimate partner violence in the queer community.
“We would cover the unique circumstances of intimate partner violence within the rainbow community. So what that looks like, why it might happen and then address common barriers that LQTBQ2S might face in trying to access services,” Bravo said.
LGBTQ2S stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit.
A major component of the workshop was to address the stereotypes about intimate partner violence.
“Probably the biggest gap in victim services is really around the notion that only cisgender, heterosexual women experience violence in their relationship,” Bravo said. “So because of that, services and resources and so on are primarily geared for heterosexual, cisgender women.”
Due to this belief, Nova Scotia lacks spaces for male-identifying people to escape violence in their relationships, Bravo said.
“What I found out from being here in Nova Scotia is there’s limited resources if you’re male identifying, if you needed to access for example a shelter space,” she said “That’s probably the biggest gap.”
Veinot said this explanation was helpful to those in attendance, as it challenged the perception that those in a same-sex relationship have a more equal dynamic than heterosexual relationships.
“[People believe] if it’s two people of the same gender, then it’s a very equal relationship. And of course that’s not always the case, there are different power dynamics that go on in any relationship, with any gender,” she said.
Another subject covered
was how to make a workspace more welcoming to a member of the queer community — including the implementation of pronouns, using gender diverse language and hanging pride symbols
“It’s really about making a space that’s safer for gender diverse folks and folks that have different sexual orientations,” Bravo said.
Veinot said this was the first time Sexual Health Lunenburg County and the CCGSD partnered in an event, but she hopes for future collaboration.
“It’s nice to have some expertise brought into the community to help improve our work as well,” Veinot said.
Bravo said she does hope to return to Nova Scotia in the near future, as she found the workshop very engaging with the 27 attendants.
“I thought it was a really great turnout and I really liked the conversation that was happening,” she said. “People were really absolutely lovely and opened up… It’s nice to facilitate that space where people feel like they can do that.”