We decided to promote a public talk concerning the themes of “Bleeding Love” in Lisbon, within the monthly programme of our LGBT community center. Some people showed up, and we tried to discover what they had to say about the subject of domestic and dating violence against lesbian and trans women in Portugal.
First, we focused the debate on the main issues and obstacles. Everyone agreed that the public speech regarding domestic violence always portraits women as victims and men as the sole perpetrators, associating physical strength as male trait and a requisite to activate violent behavior. These views are in part related to our sexist and heteronormative culture matrix, continuously replicated by the media but also by some of the more traditional feminist agenda. Plus, men are rarely seen as victims in this context.
There was some discussion around the recent case of an alleged situation of domestic violence that involved an well-known LGBT activist. The case was made public by two of the alleged victims on social media (namely facebook). They claimed that this person should no longer be associated with the LGBT movement, and claim to have presented a file on a local police precinct. The participants in the debate also underlined that this was an awkward subject for the LGBT community itself, because it presented a sort of ‘dark side’ of the life of LGBT people, something that could be perceived as a ‘confirmation’ of a lot of prejudices and resulting homophobia. In spite of the invisibility, a couple of situations made public on the media in the last few years seem to confirm the tendency to focus on episodes of extreme violence (in fact, in both cases a murder occurred, one in female relationship and the other on a male relationship). Adding to this, the participants also shared their concern regarding security forces’ homophobic and specially transphobic prejudices.
When asked about the resources available for victims in these situations, the participants pointed out the possibility of addressing the security forces (in Portugal: Polícia de Segurança Pública, Guarda Nacional Republicana or Polícia Judiciária), health services such as hospitals or victims support NGOs such as ILGA Portugal, Associação Portuguesa de Apoio à Vítima or União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta.
As for the main necessities, the participants mentioned the need to implement training programs and awareness raising campaigns with security forces, victims support staff and lawyers, as well as awareness sessions in schools that could also involve parents and other relatives.