In the aftermath of the 2016 United States presidential election, there has been distressing trend on the rise of violence and open harassment towards marginalized peoples, including LGBTQ individuals. The Southern Poverty Law Center received 867 total reports of harassment directed at various groups in November 2016, with 95 of these motivated by anti-LGBTQ prejudice. If you’re in a same-sex relationship, you may have already experienced problems, or you could be concerned about what to do if you or your partner are targeted. It’s still likely you may not experience an incident, but this might largely depend on the communities in which you live, work or attend school. While you cannot control the actions of others, taking a few helpful steps to keep the both of you safe may afford you some peace of mind.
Safety in Numbers
While many details shared by the SPLC about hate incidents are disturbing on their own, one notable characteristic about these events is that many harassers typically targeted adults who appeared to be alone out in public. In other cases, they approached women who were only accompanied by children. Because of this, you and your partner may wish to plan so that you avoid venturing outside alone individually. A few useful options may include the following:
- 1. Scheduling times in advance to go on errands together
- 2. Calling friends to accompany you on trips if your partner is not available
- 3. Using delivery services if you’re in a pinch
If you’re part of a small social group or community, you might set up an informal carpool or ride-share system to aid those who don’t have vehicles but need transportation. If planned well, a similar concept may also work for public transit users, as traveling in numbers could lessen your chances of being harassed.
Traveling Alone Safely
Sometimes, going out alone might be unavoidable, especially if you’re commuting to work or school. In these cases, it’s still possible to stay safe. In an article addressing anti-LGBTQ harassment, the University of Rochester Medical Center suggested several personal safety tips:
- 1. Stay aware and alert, and trust your instincts.
- 2. Map out the safest and most direct routes, especially for walking or public transit.
- 3. Carry a whistle to use if you feel threatened.
- 4. If you believe you might be in danger, cross the street, change direction or run into a crowd.
It’s also a good idea to avoid traveling through isolated areas, alleys and side streets with little traffic. Additionally, you may want to eschew venturing out at night unless absolutely necessary. If you must attend work or class at night, try forming a rideshare or public transit travel group with coworkers or classmates you trust.
Consider Self-Defense Training
If you’re able to work self-defense classes into your schedule, this is another way to give yourself peace of mind. You might find courses specifically for LGBTQ individuals available in your area, such as those offered by the Center for Anti-Violence Education in New York City. It may also be helpful to check with your local LGBTQ community center for resources on personal safety. If it provides a business directory, try looking there for recommended listings. Additionally, women may find self-defense classes tailored specially for them that focus on stopping harassment, abuse and assault.
You Do Have Options
If you or your partner are feeling vulnerable and scared in these times, remember that you aren’t alone. Moreover, you can take some steps to try avoiding the stress and potential danger of being harassed. Travel in pairs or groups, and try setting up or participating in a rideshare system. Also, take wise precautions when you must go out alone, and consider adding self-defense training to your repertoire. These actions may help you gain a little control over your life as well as keep you and your loved one safe.