As with many organisations, Dads Unlimited wishes to use the month of June to recognise the importance of Pride and to improve our own inclusivity within that context. We feel it is important not just to celebrate Pride, which we do, but to actually use this time to address unconscious bias, educate our staff, and make a positive difference in the lives of the LGBTQ+ communities.
Dads Unlimited supports the emotional safety of men and those they care about through three key areas; supporting male victims of domestic abuse, supporting men with family separation; and supporting men’s mental health. All of our services use an evidence-based, trauma-informed, person-centred approach.
Every man, including those who identify as male, deserves to live a life free from abuse. The Domestic Abuse Victim Empowerment (DAVE) service, was launched in September 2021 as Kent and Medway’s first male-victim support service for those who have experienced domestic abuse. The DAVE service is inclusive, supporting victims and survivors from the GBTQ+ community. You can access support here.
There have been historical difficulties for male victims of domestic violence accessing support (Javaid, 2016). The DAVE service offered here at Dads Unlimited removes this difficulty allowing for all men and those who identify as men to access the support that they need.
Research has shown that a heterosexual positionality can’t be used as a template when looking at Domestic Violence (Donovan and Barnes). Domestic abuse is not limited to heterosexual relationships and can affect individuals of all sexual orientations and genders.
The majority of the domestic violence awareness movement has focused on heterosexual relationships, with members of the LGBTQ+ community have been largely left out of the movement. However, recent research shows that LGBTQ+ members fall victim to domestic violence at equal or even higher rates compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Research indicates that 1 in 4 individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are affected by Domestic Violence and Abuse (Hunt and Fish, 2008).
Power and control are still central concepts when looking at the domestic abuse of LGBTQ+ victims (Donavan and Hester, 2014) but are manifested differently with LGBTQ+ individuals experiencing unique forms of intimate partner violence as well as distinctive barriers to seeking help due to fear of discrimination of bias.
It is because of these additional challenges that people from LGBTQ+ communities face, on top of the trauma, violence, and risk to life that victims are facing – that Dads Unlimited ensures that our services are inclusive and are breaking down institutionalised barriers and changing the quality and accessibility of support.
Family Separation Support and Co-Parenting
Transition into parenthood is not easy, and it may be even harder for gay men (Gianino, 2008). Dads Unlimited sees this issue and is supportive of GBTQ+ men and their pursuit of the goal to understand parenting roles. Prioritising the child’s wellbeing, it is important that families with such complex arrangements can access advice, support, and information about positive co-parenting and feel that they are supported by a broader community of men, regardless of their sexuality.
Although only a small proportion of our clients are not heterosexual (3.2%, June 2022) we actively work to make sure that our services are inclusive and that our clients do not face additional obstacles within the family separation system including closely with social services, Cafcass, and the Family Courts to break down barriers and deliver positive results for the children of the families we work with.
Mental Health and Counselling:
The therapeutic counselling services offered at Dads Unlimited work inclusively with men from all backgrounds, communities, and characteristics offering therapeutic intervention to any of our clients from the GBTQ+ community.
Those who identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to develop problems of low self-esteem, self-harm, suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression (Mind, 2022). Half of people from LGBTQ+ communities have experienced depression, 3 in 5 have experienced anxiety and 1 in 8 aged 18-24 have attempted to end their life (Stonewall, 2021). 1 in 7 have avoided treatment for mental health issues due to fear of discrimination (Mentalhealth.org, 2021).
Pride at Dads Unlimited
Dads Unlimited sees the problems faced by people from LGBTQ+ communities and celebrates how much has already been achieved by so many to change societal beliefs and improve access to support services. We continue to work hard to improve our services to be inclusive and accessible, and to provide the best possible support for the emotional safety of men and those they care about.