KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — According to those at the Knox Pride Center, LGBTQ+ needs have historically been put on the back burner by social service providers.
A National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Study (NISVS) shows people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community experience domestic and sexual violence at equal or higher rates than those who identify as heterosexual.
A new initiative in Knoxville is providing support for survivors.
Weekly support groups led by Meredith Moss, a YWCA domestic violence advocate for the LGBTQIA+ population, provide a safe space where survivors of domestic violence can find support and strength.
"We just have a lot of people suffering in our communities," Moss said.
Domestic violence within LGBTQ+ communities is prevalent in more ways than one.
"A lot of that trauma is not necessarily coming from our romantic relationships, it's coming from our families," explained Story VaNess, Knox Pride Center's program director for gender affirmation services for trans and nonbinary community members.
Moss said abuse within the community is multifaceted.
"We also see a lot more identity abuse where abusers will refuse to use their victim's pronouns or prevent them from getting hormone therapy or surgery, or out them to their family when they're not ready to," Moss explained.
The support group is a collaboration between the YWCA and Knox Pride Center. It meets Tuesdays at the Knox Pride Center to cover various topics including identity, trauma, PTSD and healing.
"This is one small step. So we only have forever and everything to go for," Moss said.
Knox Pride Centers provides a number of resources for LGBTQ+ people in East Tennessee, including gender affirmation days, a clothing closet and other services.
The center is hosting multiple events throughout June in honor of Pride Month. Click here for a full list of events.
Knox Pride will take place from September 30 to October 2.