Queer Dating Violence Seminar Informs Students of an Overlooked yet Prevalent Issue

By Alyssa Smith, Staff Writer—

While many institutions provide support for dating and domestic violence, few hone in on the issues specific to the queer community. 

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Center for Student Wellbeing held a virtual seminar discussing the issues pertinent to queer dating violence on Oct. 21. 

The seminar was hosted by the center’s Assistant Director for Education and Prevention, Megan McKnight. 

“LGBTQ+ dating violence is an issue that is not talked about enough in violence prevention work or within LGBTQ+ communities, yet it is so prevalent,” McKnight said. “We know from research that dating violence in LGBTQ+ relationships is equal to or higher than the prevalence in heterosexual, cisgender relationships.”

McKnight discussed the forms of dating abuse that are specific to people of the LGBTQ+ community, such as attempting to “out” them or limiting the expression of their gender. 

Another important factor that comes into play when talking about domestic violence is intersectionality. 

Intersectionality refers to the way that the effects of different discriminatory factors, such as classism or sexism, combine and intersect. 

The seminar elaborated on the different ways that these aspects affect queer dating violence, narrowing in on the issues pertaining specifically to people of color and the trans community, for example. 

“We are continually engaging in education to increase our competency and we ensure that new employees and interns have an understanding of intersectionality and the ways it shapes one’s experiences and health and wellness needs,” McKnight said. 

UTC has trained advocates in Survivor Advocacy Services, the Counseling Center, the Center for Student Wellbeing, and the Center for Women and Gender Equity that all provide queer-compatable services. 

There are various barriers to service providers and reporting that affect those in non-heterosexual abusive relationships. One bias people often hold is that women cannot abuse women, or that women cannot commit rape. Another example is that queer people are less likely to have insurance due to discrimination. 

Despite its prevalence, queer dating violence is a lesser known issue in the world of abuse. This makes being informed and aware of it all the more valuable. The Center for Student Wellbeing is available if students are interested in training or want to learn more. 

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