Stopping LGBTQ partner violence in Austin

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(AP Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is raising awareness about intimate partner violence in lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender relationships. The president of the Lesbian and Gay Peace Officers Association in Austin, Detective Michael Crumrine, has written an in-depth article on the issue in the nationally distributed publication Police Chief.

“The interesting thing is that the lesbian, gay bi-sexual, transgender community is often hidden. Not in the mainstream. Not something that’s ever looked at. There are some unique barriers to reporting,” Crumrine said.

A federally funded survey in 2011 found more than one in three women (35.6 percent) and more than one in four men (28.5 percent) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, stalking or a combination of these by an intimate partner in their lifetimes. Crumrine says the study also shows that LGBTQ intimate partner violence is just as prevalent, or even more prevalent, as in the heterosexual community, a problem often compounded by the reluctance by victims to report the crime.

“By putting yourself in a police report, in essence you’re outing yourself and quite a few people aren’t ready to make that step yet,” the detective noted. Crumrine says prejudice and bias are also barriers to stopping intimate partner violence. “Last year I was one of the individuals who tried to talk to the Legislature about why here in the state of Texas we still have a homosexual law on the books when it was ruled unconstitutional.”

Crumrine says Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has been “extremely supportive” of efforts to provide equal justice to victims of violence. The department has created a transgender policy providing guidance for officers who deal with transgender individuals.

“We are also going to be going ahead and rolling out, probably in May, some specific training for our cadets in regards to how to recognize intimate partner violence in the LGBT community and what’s best practice as far as going forward in doing that. So Austin has taken great strides. Anyone who has been victimized, not matter what, should have the confidence and the courage to step forward and talk about their abuse and hold someone accountable,” Crumrine said.

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