What is Violence?
Violence can take on many forms and does not necessarily begin with physical injury. There is physical, mental, economic, verbal and sexualised violence. Discrimination, degrading someone's way of life, harassment and verbal hostility are all forms of violence. They injure, restrict, render insecure, leave behind psychological scars and have health and financial consequences.
Our clients seek counselling because they are experiencing homophobia, transphobia and racism. They may also experience violence/discriminations based on impairment, age, origin or because they have little or no money. People often describe some combination of these diverse forms of discrimination and experiences of violence.
Lesbian/bisexual women, trans* and inter* people1 experience interpersonal violence and discrimination: on the street, at work or in their families of origin. Lesbian/bisexual women, trans* and inter* people also perpetrate violence. Therefore, people in lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans*/inter* organisations, friendships and relationships also experience violence.
So what can be done about it?
We are convinced that all forms of violence must be addressed together. We question whether it makes sense to demand stricter laws and punishments for violence against lesbians, bisexuals, trans* and inter* people. We doubt that these kinds of policies actually lead to less violence or that they offer those affected the appropriate way in which to process their experiences. In fact, we fear that the forms of state violence will continue, unchallenged.
We condemn all acts of violence. Violence is too often tolerated by bystanders or those close to the affected people. We want people to not look away, but to instead actively work against violence, both individually and collaboratively. One of the many ways to do this would be to provide people with the support they need to stop their violent behaviour. The focus should not be placed on punishing the person. The goal is for the affected person to get better and to make sure that the person who perpetrated the violence does not repeat it.
1 Trans* designates all those who cannot or do not want to live as the gender that they were assigned at birth. This includes individuals who are transsexual, transgender, drag queens and kings, transidentities, crossdressers and many more.
2 People of Color is a political self-definition for people who are affected by racist discrimination based on skin colour, language, name, origin and/or religion. Source: MRBB “Leben nach Migration”, Oct. 2009–Dec. 2011.