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  • DOVE's Support of the Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty Bill

    July 20, 2020 The Honorable Robert F. DeLeo The Honorable Karen Spilka Speaker, House of Representatives President, Senate The Honorable Aaron Michlewitz The Honorable Michael Rodrigues Chair, House Ways and Means Committee Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee Dear Mr. Speaker, Madam President, Chair Michlewitz and Chair Rodrigues: Thank you for the work you are doing to address the consequences of the public health pandemic in Massachusetts. I am writing to urge you to enact the bills to Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty (House 102, Senate 36), which would set a floor for cash assistance benefits at 50% of the federal poverty level. DOVE (Domestic Violence Ended), Inc., is a comprehensive, multi-service provider based in Quincy, MA, and serving 17 cities and towns immediately south of Boston. DOVE specializes in domestic violence and teen dating violence survivor services and prevention programming. DOVE operates a 24-hour hotline and emergency shelter, and also provides a broad range of community-based services, including supportive counseling and advocacy, civilian advocacy in partnership with eight area police departments, legal services, community outreach and education, and teen dating violence prevention and awareness programs. These bills are important to DOVE given the situations most survivors of domestic violence face. Many are trapped in homes with an abusive partner because of the financial barriers to leaving and the risks they face of plummeting into poverty without solid economic supports to enable their safe separation from an abuser. The majority of survivors we work with are indigent or at best financially vulnerable and making decisions for themselves and their children about their physical and emotional safety and well-being in a home with an abusive partner, vs. financial viability if they leave. Financial stress is also a key factor in survivors’ decisions to reunite with abusive partners. We must address these barriers that survivors face in pursuit of safety for themselves and their children. Currently, DOVE is working with an indigent client who has a five (5) year-old child and an infant with her abusive partner. Despite experiencing years of physical and verbal abuse, our client continues to remain with her abuser because she is unable to afford to provide for her children and herself without her abuser’s added income. With the solid economic support that would exist if Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty was enacted, our client would have the means to afford both rent and groceries to meet the needs of herself and her children. A yearly increase in the cash aid grants for this family of three, and others like her, would ensure that our client could continue to meet her family’s financial needs as inflation rises. This indigent client is one of the many that DOVE serves, and will continue to serve, that faces financial vulnerability. These bills are necessary in assisting DOVE to empower and provide hope and healing to survivors looking for support and resources as they seek safety. Currently, the maximum cash aid grant for a family of three is $593/month. This is less than one-third of the federal poverty level. The bills would raise grants by 10% each year until they reach Deep Poverty – half of the federal poverty level. Then grants would go up by a small amount each year to keep pace with inflation as the Deep Poverty level goes up. TAFDC grants have lost half their value since 1988. Meanwhile, even before the current public health crisis, the cost of basic necessities like toilet paper, diapers and children's Tylenol had doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. For cash assistance family – who have no resources to fall back on – the stress of not being able to meet basic needs exacerbates the stress everyone is experiencing because of pandemic. We understand that the Commonwealth is facing a revenue shortfall as well as increased costs because of the pandemic. The bills to Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty would raise grants slowly to mitigate the budget impact. However, we should not wait any longer to begin addressing the painfully low grants that harm our children. We urge you to take action during this session to put Massachusetts on a path to doing what is right for our lowest income families. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Sue Chandler, MPH, MSW Executive Director

  • DOVE's In Support of Providing For Gender Neutral Designation on State Documents & Identifications

    JOINT COMMITTEE ON STATE ADMINISTRATION and REGULATORY OVERSIGHT TESTIMONY OF DOVE (Domestic Violence Ended), Inc. IN SUPPORT OF H. 3664 An Act providing for a gender neutral designation on state documents and identifications Dear Chairperson Pacheco, Chairperson Gregoire, and members of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight: Thank you for bringing to the attention of the Massachusetts House of Representatives the Act providing for a gender neutral designation on state documents and identifications. This legislation would enable non-binary people to obtain identification that accurately reflects their gender identity. House 3664 is in line with the 2016 passage of the Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination, and will take the necessary next step of fostering greater safety and equality for non-binary people who identify as neither male nor female.[1] DOVE, Inc. fully supports passage of House 3644. My name is Sarah Karerat, and I am the LGBQ/T Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator at DOVE (Domestic Violence Ended), Inc., a multi-service organization providing comprehensive direct services and support for victims of dating and domestic violence of all genders. Our efforts address the isolation and vulnerability faced by survivors of domestic violence and the enormous emotional, psychological, and financial toll violence takes on victims, their children, and the community. The comments below draw from our observations of the lived experiences of the survivors with whom we have worked. Passing House 3644 is an integral step in recognizing and welcoming the ways in which people live beyond the traditional gender binary. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines “sex” in the Affordable Care Act to include “gender identity,” referring to “an individual’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual’s sex assigned at birth.”[2] The National Center for Transgender Equality notes: “People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non-binary being one of the most common. Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bi-gender, and more.”[3] Importantly, 35% of the 28,000 individuals across the United States who responded to the 2015 US Transgender Survey identified as non-binary or genderqueer.[4] This survey also detailed the experiences of transgender and non-binary respondents from Massachusetts specifically, and noted that 61% reported that none of their identity documents corresponded with their gender identity.[5] Having identification documents that reflect one’s true identity enables non-binary people to publicly represent themselves in a way that corresponds with their internal sense of self. Furthermore, of the 1,195 transgender and non-binary individuals from Massachusetts surveyed in the 2015 US Transgender Survey, nearly one-third (32%) who have shown identification documents with a name or gender marker that did not correspond with their presentation reported having negative experiences, such as harassment, denial of services, and/or being attacked.[6] In DOVE’s work, we have seen astonishingly high rates of domestic abuse experienced in the transgender and non-binary communities, with the lifetime prevalence of domestic violence for transgender and non-binary individuals at 54%.[7] In every abusive relationship, the means and impact of abuse are shaped by the identities which a survivor embodies, and this holds true for survivors in the non-binary community. Creating wider acceptance for and affirmation of non-binary individuals through identification that corresponds with one’s true gender identity allows greater potential for autonomy rather than violence. By reducing the harm of oppression on non-binary people, we leave less room for abusers to use their identity against them in isolation, threatening to “out” them, or other forms of harm. Fourteen states – including New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont – and the District of Columbia have already passed laws or regulations enabling people to choose a neutral gender marker on their identity documents. It is DOVE’s hope that Massachusetts will join them by passing House 3644 as we do our part to bring about greater respect and dignity for non-binary people throughout the state. Sincerely, Sue Chandler, MPH, MSW Sarah Karerat Executive Director LGBQ/T Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator [1] An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination, S.735, Sess. of 2016 (Mass. 2011). [2] “Definitions,” Code of Federal Regulations, title 45: 561-563, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2018-title45-vol1/pdf/CFR-2018-title45-vol1-chapA.pdf [3] “Understanding Non-Binary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive,” National Center for Transgender Equality, last modified October 5, 2018, https://transequality.org/issues/resources/understanding-non-binary-people-how-to-be-respectful-and-supportive [4] S.E. James et. al, “The Report of the 2015 US Transgender Survey” (Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality, 2016), 45. [5] “2015 US Transgender Survey: Massachusetts State Report” (Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality, 2017), 3. [6] “2015 US Transgender Survey: Massachusetts State Report.” [7] James et. al, “The Report of the 2015 US Transgender Survey,” 15.

  • DOVE's support of right to counsel in eviction cases & sealing of eviction records

    January 28, 2020 Honorable James Eldridge Honorable Claire Cronin Senate Chair, House Chair, Joint Committee on Judiciary Joint Committee on Judiciary State House, Room 320 State House, Room 136 Boston, MA 02133 Boston, MA 02133 Re: S. 913 An Act to ensure right to counsel in eviction proceedings H. 3456 An Act to ensure right to counsel in eviction proceedings H.1537 An Act establishing a right to counsel in certain eviction cases S. 824 The HOMES Act H. 3566 The HOMES Act Dear Chairman Eldridge, Chairwoman Cronin, and Members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary: We are writing on behalf of DOVE (DOmestic Violence Ended), Inc. in support of right to counsel in eviction cases (H. 3456, H. 1537, S. 913) and in support of sealing of eviction records, the HOMES Act (S. 824 and H. 3566). At DOVE, we believe that all people have the right to live without fear of abuse, and we work to make this a reality. Since our founding in 1978, DOVE has expanded from a crisis hotline to a multi-service organization providing comprehensive direct services and support for victims of dating and domestic violence, as well as their children throughout Norfolk County, Massachusetts and neighboring cities. DOVE’s services include emergency shelter, legal advocacy and representation, crisis intervention, risk assessment and safety planning, supportive counseling, and community outreach, education, and training. DOVE clients often face housing emergencies as a result of the abuse they suffer, including facing eviction due to circumstances caused by the abuse. While M.G.L. ch. 186 §§ 23-29 provides domestic violence survivors with the right to break their lease and have their locks changed, it does not guarantee protection from eviction as a result of violence they have experienced. [1] Unfortunately, as reflected in the stories of the clients we serve, evictions based on circumstances created by domestic violence are all too common. Survivors are often evicted after they obtain a restraining order ordering their abuser out of the home, as they are unable to continue paying rent. Survivors often suffer severe physical injuries as a result of violence that cause them to miss time at work, resulting in job loss and inability to pay rent. Abusers also often cause damage to an apartment during an incident of abuse, and survivors are evicted as a result. Our local courthouse, Quincy District Court, saw 1,076 summary process (eviction) cases filed in fiscal year 2019.[2] This is more than double the number of summary process cases filed in any other district court in the Commonwealth.[3] In addition, the housing court serving our district saw 2,328 summary process cases filed in fiscal year 2019.[4] DOVE is very concerned, based on our experience working with survivors, that domestic violence is the underlying reason for many of these evictions. The number of eviction cases in our region is staggering, and as the only domestic violence-specific legal services program in our area, we cannot meet even a fraction of the need for representation in these cases. The vast majority of survivors being evicted, like 92% of tenants statewide, cannot obtain legal representation. These survivors often end up homeless as a result of the abuse. Moreover, once eviction cases are filed against them, survivors have eviction records that follow them for the rest of their lives. Prospective landlords often refuse to rent to anyone with any eviction record, regardless of the type of eviction or the reason behind it. This makes it nearly impossible for survivors to find new housing and move on with their lives. For example, DOVE recently represented a survivor who was being evicted for breaking a window in her apartment. The window had been broken, however, when the survivor – fleeing on foot with her young daughter after being assaulted by her abuser – arrived home only to find that she had left her cell phone, wallet and keys behind when she fled. With no way to enter her apartment or call the management office, and after nobody else in the building answered their doorbell, the survivor was forced to break her own window to enter the safety of her own home. While she and her child were momentarily safe, the management company brought an eviction case against them, alleging that the survivor violated her lease by breaking the window, even though she had offered to replace it at her own expense. With DOVE’s representation, the eviction case was able to be converted from a “for cause” case to a “no fault” case, which allowed the survivor to retain her housing voucher, and the survivor obtained three additional months to look for housing. The landlord also agreed to remove the survivor’s young child’s name from the eviction records. Without representation, the survivor and her child would likely have been homeless immediately. The child would have had an eviction record that would have followed her for the rest of her life, despite the fact that at the time of eviction she was not legally old enough to rent an apartment herself. Even with representation however, the survivor still has a lifelong eviction record, and is having a difficult time finding new housing as a result. DOVE wholeheartedly supports the Right to Counsel (RTC) Coalition’s recommendation that pulls together provisions from the right to counsel bills currently before the Joint Committee. This bill would guarantee representation in eviction cases to survivors who qualify, and would help to level the playing field between tenants and landlords. This bill would have life-changing consequences for our clients: with representation, they would be much less likely to become homeless as a result of the abuse they have suffered. DOVE also wholeheartedly supports the HOMES Act, which would provide for eviction sealing. This would protect survivors who obtain eviction records following incidences of domestic violence, and would also protect their children who are frequently named in eviction cases. Survivors, like the DOVE client discussed above, would have an easier time finding alternative housing and regaining stability and safety following the abuse they suffered. Both of these bills would have tremendous implications for our clients, and would allow them to move forward with more stability. Nobody who has suffered violence should become homeless as a result of it. Therefore, we urge you to report these bills out favorably and advocate for their passage. Respectfully submitted, Sue Chandler, MPH, MSW Lily Ann Ritter, Esq. Executive Director Housing & Benefits Staff Attorney Cc: Representative Joe Kennedy III Representative Stephen Lynch Representative Jim McGovern Representative Ayanna Pressley Senator Ed Markey Senator Elizabeth Warren [1] M.G.L. ch. 186 §§ 23-29: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleI/Chapter186/Section23 [2] District Court Department, Fiscal Year 2019, Filings by Division: https://www.mass.gov/doc/total-filings-by-court-location-18/download [3] District Court Department, Fiscal Year 2019, Filings by Division: https://www.mass.gov/doc/total-filings-by-court-location-18/download [4] Housing Court Department, Fiscal Year 2019 Statistics: https://www.mass.gov/doc/filings-and-dispositions-by-court-location-3/download

  • Living Your Best Sustainable Life

    Create a blog post subtitle that summarizes your post in a few short, punchy sentences and entices your audience to continue reading. Welcome to your blog post. Use this space to connect with your readers and potential customers in a way that’s current and interesting. Think of it as an ongoing conversation where you can share updates about business, trends, news, and more. “Do you have a design in mind for your blog? Whether you prefer a trendy postcard look or you’re going for a more editorial style blog - there’s a stunning layout for everyone.” You’ll be posting loads of engaging content, so be sure to keep your blog organized with Categories that also allow visitors to explore more of what interests them. Create Relevant Content Writing a blog is a great way to position yourself as an authority in your field and captivate your readers’ attention. Do you want to improve your site’s SEO ranking? Consider topics that focus on relevant keywords and relate back to your website or business. You can also add hashtags (#vacation #dream #summer) throughout your posts to reach more people, and help visitors search for relevant content. Blogging gives your site a voice, so let your business’ personality shine through. Choose a great image to feature in your post or add a video for extra engagement. Are you ready to get started? Simply create a new post now.

  • Environmental Challenges Over the Next Decade

    Create a blog post subtitle that summarizes your post in a few short, punchy sentences and entices your audience to continue reading. Welcome to your blog post. Use this space to connect with your readers and potential customers in a way that’s current and interesting. Think of it as an ongoing conversation where you can share updates about business, trends, news, and more. Design with Ease “Do you have a design in mind for your blog? Whether you prefer a trendy postcard look or you’re going for a more editorial style blog - there’s a stunning layout for everyone.” Every layout comes with the latest social features built in. Readers will be able to easily share posts on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, view how many people have liked a post, made comments and more. With the Wix, building your online community has never been easier. Create Relevant Content You’ll be posting loads of engaging content, so be sure to keep your blog organized with Categories that also allow readers to explore more of what interests them. Each category of your blog has its own page that’s fully customizable. Add a catchy title, a brief description and a beautiful image to the category page header to truly make it your own. You can also add tags (#vacation #dream #summer) throughout your posts to reach more people, and help readers search for relevant content. Using hashtags can expand your post reach and help people find the content that matters to them. Go ahead, #hashtag away. Stun Your Readers “Be original, show off your style, and tell your story.” Blogging gives your site a voice, so let your business’ personality shine through. Are you a creative agency? Go wild with original blog posts about recent projects, cool inspirational ideas, or what your company culture is like. Add images, and videos to really spice it up, and pepper it with slang to keep readers interested. Are you a programmer? Stay on the more technical side by offering weekly tips, tricks, and hacks that show off your knowledge of the industry. No matter what type of business you have, one thing is for sure - blogging gives your business the opportunity to be heard in a way in a different and unconventional way. Get Inspired To keep up with all things Wix, including website building tips and interesting articles, head over to to the Wix Blog. You may even find yourself inspired to start crafting your own blog, adding unique content, and stunning images and videos. Start creating your own blog now. Good luck!

  • Want to Help? Adopt a Tiger

    Create a blog post subtitle that summarizes your post in a few short, punchy sentences and entices your audience to continue reading. Welcome to your blog post. Use this space to connect with your readers and potential customers in a way that’s current and interesting. Think of it as an ongoing conversation where you can share updates about business, trends, news, and more. Design with Ease “Do you have a design in mind for your blog? Whether you prefer a trendy postcard look or you’re going for a more editorial style blog - there’s a stunning layout for everyone.” Every layout comes with the latest social features built in. Readers will be able to easily share posts on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, view how many people have liked a post, made comments and more. With the Wix, building your online community has never been easier. Create Relevant Content You’ll be posting loads of engaging content, so be sure to keep your blog organized with Categories that also allow readers to explore more of what interests them. Each category of your blog has its own page that’s fully customizable. Add a catchy title, a brief description and a beautiful image to the category page header to truly make it your own. You can also add tags (#vacation #dream #summer) throughout your posts to reach more people, and help readers search for relevant content. Using hashtags can expand your post reach and help people find the content that matters to them. Go ahead, #hashtag away. Stun Your Readers “Be original, show off your style, and tell your story.” Blogging gives your site a voice, so let your business’ personality shine through. Are you a creative agency? Go wild with original blog posts about recent projects, cool inspirational ideas, or what your company culture is like. Add images, and videos to really spice it up, and pepper it with slang to keep readers interested. Are you a programmer? Stay on the more technical side by offering weekly tips, tricks, and hacks that show off your knowledge of the industry. No matter what type of business you have, one thing is for sure - blogging gives your business the opportunity to be heard in a way in a different and unconventional way. Get Inspired To keep up with all things Wix, including website building tips and interesting articles, head over to to the Wix Blog. You may even find yourself inspired to start crafting your own blog, adding unique content, and stunning images and videos. Start creating your own blog now. Good luck!

  • Banning Plastic Benefits

    Create a blog post subtitle that summarizes your post in a few short, punchy sentences and entices your audience to continue reading. Welcome to your blog post. Use this space to connect with your readers and potential customers in a way that’s current and interesting. Think of it as an ongoing conversation where you can share updates about business, trends, news, and more. “Do you have a design in mind for your blog? Whether you prefer a trendy postcard look or you’re going for a more editorial style blog - there’s a stunning layout for everyone.” You’ll be posting loads of engaging content, so be sure to keep your blog organized with Categories that also allow visitors to explore more of what interests them. Create Relevant Content Writing a blog is a great way to position yourself as an authority in your field and captivate your readers’ attention. Do you want to improve your site’s SEO ranking? Consider topics that focus on relevant keywords and relate back to your website or business. You can also add hashtags (#vacation #dream #summer) throughout your posts to reach more people, and help visitors search for relevant content. Blogging gives your site a voice, so let your business’ personality shine through. Choose a great image to feature in your post or add a video for extra engagement. Are you ready to get started? Simply create a new post now.

  • Youth March for Climate Change

    Create a blog post subtitle that summarizes your post in a few short, punchy sentences and entices your audience to continue reading. Welcome to your blog post. Use this space to connect with your readers and potential customers in a way that’s current and interesting. Think of it as an ongoing conversation where you can share updates about business, trends, news, and more. Design with Ease “Do you have a design in mind for your blog? Whether you prefer a trendy postcard look or you’re going for a more editorial style blog - there’s a stunning layout for everyone.” Every layout comes with the latest social features built in. Readers will be able to easily share posts on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, view how many people have liked a post, made comments and more. With the Wix, building your online community has never been easier. Create Relevant Content You’ll be posting loads of engaging content, so be sure to keep your blog organized with Categories that also allow readers to explore more of what interests them. Each category of your blog has its own page that’s fully customizable. Add a catchy title, a brief description and a beautiful image to the category page header to truly make it your own. You can also add tags (#vacation #dream #summer) throughout your posts to reach more people, and help readers search for relevant content. Using hashtags can expand your post reach and help people find the content that matters to them. Go ahead, #hashtag away. Stun Your Readers “Be original, show off your style, and tell your story.” Blogging gives your site a voice, so let your business’ personality shine through. Are you a creative agency? Go wild with original blog posts about recent projects, cool inspirational ideas, or what your company culture is like. Add images, and videos to really spice it up, and pepper it with slang to keep readers interested. Are you a programmer? Stay on the more technical side by offering weekly tips, tricks, and hacks that show off your knowledge of the industry. No matter what type of business you have, one thing is for sure - blogging gives your business the opportunity to be heard in a way in a different and unconventional way. Get Inspired To keep up with all things Wix, including website building tips and interesting articles, head over to to the Wix Blog. You may even find yourself inspired to start crafting your own blog, adding unique content, and stunning images and videos. Start creating your own blog now. Good luck!

  • Why Bi+ Representation On-Screen Matters When Thinking About Intimate Partner Violence

    By Sarah Karerat Posted on March 5th, 2019 Originally posted in Bi Health, Bisexual Health Awareness Month, and Blog Content warning: domestic violence, sexual violence, bi+ erasure, biphobia Representation — and in many cases, the lack thereof —  has real-world effects. We’ve heard this countless times, yet have we thought critically about how far-reaching the impact of representation truly is? Consider the high rates of violence that the bi+ community faces. The 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) noted that more than half (61.1%) of bisexual women and 37.3% of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking from an intimate partner in their lifetime, rates that are drastically higher than those of the general population (35.6% of women and 28.5% of men). Additionally, 75% of bi+ women within the United States reported having experienced sexual violence in the NISVS, as compared to 46% of lesbian women and 43% of heterosexual women. It is important to note that the research studies conducted thus far on sexual identity and the incidence of intimate partner violence have only mentioned men and women in their findings, and hence have not explicitly taken into account people of other genders. Still, the research reveals the stark reality that bi+ individuals are significantly more likely to experience intimate partner violence and other forms of sexual violence than the general population. So what does this have to do with representation? Let’s consider those numbers as well. GLAAD’s 2017-2018 report on LGBTQ+ inclusion noted that of the 6.4% of regular characters on primetime scripted broadcast TV that were LGBTQ+, only 28% were bi+. Bi+ representation in the media is limited, and it’s not uncommon for television shows which portray characters in relationships with people of multiple genders to never include the actual word “bisexual.” The lack of media representation of bi+ people contributes to the erasure of bisexual identity. On a recent episode of the Hulu series The Bisexual, director and creator Desiree Akhavan’s lead character Leila, a bisexual woman who at the beginning of the series identifies as a lesbian, tells her group of lesbian friends: “I’m pretty sure bisexuality is a myth.” The show proceeds to unravel this notion, but not without first making the point that bi+ erasure is widespread. The legitimacy of bisexual identity is questioned not only in spaces where heterosexuality is dominant, but also in the LGBTQ+ community. Even when we are graced with the appearance of a bisexual character on TV, they are often the villain. Take Lady Gaga’s murderess character Elizabeth in “American Horror Story: Hotel” or Kevin Spacey’s former Frank Underwood in “House of Cards.” Many of these bisexual characters show a lack of morality. They are untrustworthy, unfaithful, and their sexual fluidity seems to imply moral fluidity. We see this in the case of “House of Cards” — showrunner Beau Willimon denied that Frank Underwood could be labeled bisexual, stating instead  that “he’s a man with a large appetite, he’s a man who does not allow himself to be placed in any sort of milieu or with one definition.” His bisexuality, therefore, is linked with his immorality. As Zachary Zane writes for the Washington Post, “He’s a man who has no problem murdering, bribing, betraying — and sleeping with anyone — to obtain power. It was as if his voracious thirst for power somehow related to his sexual fluidity.” The bisexual+ community thus finds itself between a rock and a hard place when it comes to media, and particularly television, representation. More often than not, bisexuality goes unrepresented, and when it is represented, negative stereotypes take the forefront. Writers at the Huffington Post spoke to numerous researchers about the impact of representation. Ana-Christina Ramón, assistant director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, explained, “What you see often becomes a part of your memory, and thus a part of your life experience.” In particular, what we watch on television develops into what we begin to see as normal. Thus, the negative stereotypes of bisexuality presented on television have harmful impact on viewers. Along similar lines, Nicole Martins, associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington, discussed a field of research surrounding symbolic annihilation, “the idea that if you don’t see people like you in the media you consume, you must somehow be unimportant.” When the bi+ community is all but invisible, the few notions of bisexuality that are out there deeply impact society. The experience of watching untrustworthy and immoral bisexual characters on-screen translates into hostility in real life. Media representations feed stereotypes of bi+ people being unworthy of privacy and deserving of jealousy, and widens the potential for misunderstanding. These attitudes towards bi+ people then impact the relationships which bi+ people are a part of. Identity-based abuse involves an abuser deploying elements relating to one’s personal characteristics and identities to manipulate and control them. Stereotypes of bisexuality can manifest in identity-based abuse. For instance, an abuser might take advantage of the stereotype of bi+ individuals being hypersexual to accuse their partner of being unfaithful and assert more control over their partner’s interactions with others, therefore isolating them. They could also use this notion of hypersexuality to assume total access to their partner’s body, with little to no respect for boundaries or consent. An abuser might also question or deride their partner’s bisexuality. Bi+ erasure could manifest in an abuser asserting that their partner’s bisexuality is “just a phase” or that bisexuality is just an excuse for a bi+ individual to deflect homophobia or claim the privilege of heterosexuality. This type of questioning is violent in its own right. As Devon Price writes in a blog post: “Erasure of identity is not privilege. Exclusion takes a hefty toll.” Acts of power, control, and violence in abusive relationships serve to make it more and more difficult for a survivor to leave the relationship. Internalization of the stereotypes surrounding bisexuality makes it more likely that a survivor would accept these forms of identity-based violence as appropriate within a relationship, and less likely that they will leave their abuser. Bi+ erasure and stereotypes also create barriers to accessing services, particularly if they reach individuals who work within support systems and institutions like the police, justice system, or social services. These are only a few examples of the harm that misconceptions of bisexality can cause within intimate partner relationships. What emerges is that representation really does matter. The media has significant power over how society perceives different identities and groups of people, and the bi+ community is no exception to that. With better representation in the media (if you’re in need of a new show to watch, Autostraddle has some great lists highlighting positive bi+ representation) and more work in the community, hopefully we can move towards the normalization and acceptance of bi+ identities and the dispelling of detrimental stereotypes, envisioning a reality where bi+ individuals are safer in their intimate partner relationships. #LGBQT #DomesticViolence #BIHealth #Representation For emotional assistance for bi+ and other domestic violence survivors on the South Shore (MA), call DOVE’s free and confidential 24/7 hotline at 617-471-1234. Other hotline resources for bi+ survivors include: The Network/La Red: 800-832-1901 The Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse:  206-568-7777 The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

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