LGBTQ+ Specific Domestic Abuse Services in Brighton & Hove

March 10, 2024

LGBTQ+ Specific Domestic Abuse Services in Brighton & Hove

With Brighton and Hove City Council announcing £30 million of cuts this financial year, including defunding the LGBTQ+ dispersed refuge provided by a non-LGBTQ+ organisation, many articles have been published about how there will no longer be any LGBTQ+ refuge provision in the city. What these pieces have failed to consider, however, is whether the current provision has been fit for purpose or responsive to the clearly articulated needs of LGBTQ+ communities themselves. Communities frequently ask for ‘by and for’ services – and this has not been provided.

Switchboard has an LGBTQ+ specific domestic abuse service and have supported over 200 survivors of both historic and current domestic abuse, at all risk levels, over the last two years. Around 50% of our clients are self-referred, reflecting the evidence that LGBTQ+ people experiencing domestic abuse do not readily engage with statutory services.

Half of our service users are also QTIPOC (Queer, Trans, or Intersex Person of Colour), and for this reason Switchboard work closely with Hersana, who have an inclusive definition of women, including trans women. They refer to Black women, Black girls, Black trans women and Black non-binary people as their client group.

Switchboard’s work is also designed to achieve greater support and engagement with TNBI (trans, non-binary and intersex) communities. We have established LGBTQ+ domestic abuse survivor peer support groups, with many group members reporting that they are spaces where they can have some respite and connect with other LGBTQ+ survivors.

Local evidence shows that 4% of those seeking safe accommodation in Brighton and Hove are experiencing domestic abuse compared to the national average of 2%. Research shows that LGBTQ+ people face unique barriers to accessing services due to their sexuality and gender identity (Galop, 2021). LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse than cisgender, heterosexual people (Galop, 2021), while trans, non-binary, and intersex people are the most likely to report experiencing domestic abuse (Galop, 2021). LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic abuse are more likely to attempt suicide, more likely to be abused by multiple perpetrators over their lifetime, and less likely to report their experiences or receive adequate support (Galop, 2021; 2023). The evidence shows that overall, LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic abuse within the UK want to access by-and-for support and their outcomes improve when they do (Domestic Abuse Commissioner, 2022).

Within Brighton and Hove, currently, we have no by-and-for LGBTQ+ housing provision. There is no ringfenced emergency accommodation for domestic abuse survivors, of any minoritised group, and there is no by-and-for LGBTQ+ refuge within Brighton and Hove. The model that has existed until now has not mirrored traditional models of refuge that are ‘multiple occupancy’, with multiple survivors living on the same site. The current model is a ‘dispersed refuge’ model, meaning it offers single independent flats provided by a housing association. Typically, this has been outside Brighton and Hove, so can hardly be considered local. By not adhering to the multiple occupancy model, LGBTQ+ survivors are missing out on vital community support that comes with living in an all-LGBTQ+ refuge. Survivors are also not able to feel completely safe and free from any further discrimination within the refuge, which can occur when LGBTQ+ people are forced to go into non-LGBTQ+ spaces.

The LGBTQ+ specialist IDVAs (independent domestic violence advocates) at Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard say: “Refuge is often not an option for LGBTQ+ survivors wishing to flee. There’s usually not a placement available for them and, if there is, it’s usually out of area or they are concerned about facing further abuse due to being LGBTQ+. We’ve had occasions where TNBI survivors have said they would be terrified to go into a non-LGBTQ+ refuge for fear of experiencing further abuse from staff or other residents.”

During the Switchboard night shelter pilot, which ended last year, over half the residents were not known to the local authority because of fear of homo/bi/transphobia.

Whilst the cuts announced by Brighton and Hove City Council are incredibly worrying, they could leave room for by-and-for LGBTQ+ refuge provision to commence in Brighton and Hove. Having some provision can be considered ‘better than nothing’, however the current model doesn’t meet the needs of the community. What we have is in direct contrast to the vast array of evidence available that has one very clear message: support for LGBTQ+ victims and survivors of domestic abuse should be provided by by-and-for organisations. It is hoped that the current situation will be seen as an opportunity to rectify this situation.



Commissioning for inclusion – Galop – Galop

“An isolated place”: LGBT+ domestic abuse survivors’ access to support – Galop

LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Service Provision Mapping Study – Galop

Free to be safe web.pdf (