Malden, MA –RESPOND, Inc. and The Network/La Red respond to the recent alleged same-sex domestic violence murder of Brian Bergeron in Malden by his husband, Michael Losee. RESPOND, Inc., serving Malden and 10 surrounding communities, is New England’s first domestic violence agency and serves all victims of domestic violence.The Network/La Red is a survivor-led social justice organization working to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities.
Domestic violence advocates have identified at least 5 reported and/or suspected LGBTQ domestic violence homicides in Massachusetts in the past year, including the recent death of Brian Bergeron of Malden. The most recent report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs on LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence documented 6 domestic violence murders in a LGBTQ relationship in the United States in 2009. Domestic Violence advocates in Massachusetts say it’s too early to call this a trend, but no less alarming. “While one homicide is one too many, these figures don’t mean domestic violence homicides in LGBTQ communities are happening at higher rates in Massachusetts,” says Chai Jindasurat, Director of Organizing and Education at The Network/La Red. “It is possible that homicides of people who are LGBTQ are being accurately identified as domestic violence. Our program and others in Massachusetts have been working with response systems and providing community education for over twenty years on the existence of LGBTQ domestic violence. Legal recognition also plays a role in increased reports. Had this been in a state where their relationship could not be legally recognized it might have been reported as roommates or friends and that would be the end of it.”
25-33% of LGBTQ people experience partner abuse in their lifetime – the same rate as women abused by men. Domestic violence in all communities is about more than just physical violence. It is a pattern of behaviors used by an abuser to control their partner. Advocates point out that it is essential to understand the history of abuse in order to accurately identify who was the abuser and who was the victim in order to determine if the homicide was the ultimate act of domestic violence or done in self-defense.
“Domestic violence homicides are predictable and therefore preventable,” says Jessica C. Brayden, Executive Director of RESPOND, Inc. “Domestic violence happens regardless of socio-economic status, gender, gender identity or other characteristics,” continues Brayden. “Until we all accept this as a significant public health issue and societal problem that requires the funding and support of life-saving services, victims will continue to be at risk.”
Jindasurat added, “We must continue to do all that we can to make sure that LGBTQ survivors know that they are not alone, that help is available, and that we must break the silence of this issue in our communities.”
If you are concerned about your relationship or the relationship of a friend or family member, call RESPOND’s crisis hotline at 617.623.5900 or The Network/La Red’s free and confidential hotline at 617.742.4911 (voice), 617.227.4911 (tty) or visit www.tnlr.org.