Vera's Center on Victimization and Safety (CVS) is evaluating an initiative that seeks to increase the capacity of mainstream victim service providers to effectively serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) victims of crime. The initiative, which is coordinated by the New York Anti-Violence Project on behalf of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, is being implemented in one domestic violence center and two rape crisis centers in different parts of the United States. The findings will be shared with victim service providers nationwide to help them improve services for LGBTQ survivors.

As part of the initiative, launched in early 2012, six regional Anti-Violence Projects (AVPs)—programs designed to address violence against LGBTQ people—are providing training and other assistance to three mainstream organizations. Vera’s evaluation is using performance indicators to measure the impact of the AVPs’ assistance on the organizations’ capacity to serve LGBTQ victims. The indicators will measure change in critical areas including human and material resources, culture, outreach, service delivery, and systems advocacy.

Vera will evaluate how accessible the mainstream service providers are to LGBTQ survivors as compared to heterosexual survivors. Researchers will survey survivors and LGBTQ service providers and organizers, interview mainstream agency staff, analyze administrative data, and review relevant agency materials (for example, mission statements, policies, and strategic plans). Data will be collected three times during the course of the three-year initiative to measure change. The researchers will use the evidence they gather to determine the impact of the AVPs’ activities on the mainstream organizations’ capacities.

Why focus on LGBTQ victims?

Researchers have found that LGBTQ people experience domestic and sexual violence at rates comparable to or higher than those among heterosexuals. However, most victim service providers report they are not working with LGBTQ survivors, nor are these providers equipped to meet their unique needs. LGBTQ survivors are thus left without adequate supports in the face of life-threatening and traumatic experiences. This project aims to assess how to best equip mainstream providers to meet the needs of LGBTQ survivors.

For more information, contact CVS director Nancy Smith.

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Director, Center on Victimization and Safety