For nearly 10 years, the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project (KCAVP) has assisted local victims and survivors of anti-LGBT violence. At the same time, it reaches out to the community to raise awareness of these offenses with the intent of preventing them. With a newly installed executive director and the possibility of fresh partnerships, KCAVP hopes to continue fulfilling its mission well into the future.
Justin Shaw, the new executive director, gave fair warning to look for a new, big, signature KCAVP event next year, which will be the group’s 10th anniversary. Shaw comes from a performing arts background, having moved over to KCAVP from the Unicorn Theatre. He plans to earn a master’s degree as part of his career change to the nonprofit sector.
KCAVP also has three more full-time staff members: Lindsey Moore, victim advocate; Diane Beal, outreach and education coordinator; and Santiago Vásquez, outreach and education associate. Beal has substantial experience with nonprofit work, and Moore is the senior advocate at KCAVP. Vásquez joined the team after doing similar work in Wichita. Volunteers and board members round out the contingent at Kansas City Anti-Violence Project.
Started in 2003 by Doug Riley, KCAVP operates as a Missouri 501(c)3. As with other Kansas City-area nonprofits, it must navigate the maze of grant funding in both Kansas and Missouri in order to do its bi-state work. The group also accepts private donations, which may be used with more discretion than grant dollars. To donate to KCAVP, go to kcavp.org.
On Oct. 20, KCAVP hosted its annual fundraiser, “Bowl a ‘Strike’ Against Violence,” at Ward Parkway Lanes.
Training and outreach
KCAVP provides training and outreach to the LGBT com-munity and the broader community. Training can be tailored to fit each group, and KCAVP can provide speakers and discussion panels to corporate, law enforcement or other interested groups. You might find KCAVP staff in the community at events such as Pride, AIDS Walk, Transgender Day of Remembrance, or staffing a table at LGBT-inclusive events. The group plans more outreach to bars in the future.
Needs assessment and support
When a client calls KCAVP or contacts an advocate online to report an incident of violence, that client’s confidentiality is guaranteed. Contradictory to a stereotype, it is not just people low on funds who should use this resource. Everyone should have an awareness of what anti-LGBT crimes are and know that she, he or zie deserves to be safe. Knowing the symptoms of an unhealthy relationship can aid in reinforcing this awareness. If you are a victim, call – no matter who you are, no matter the size of your paycheck or social standing. Encourage others to do so, as well.
KCAVP will work with victims to assess their situations and needs, identify resources and, if necessary, provide referrals. Staff can help obtain orders of protection and provide personal support and assistance during Kansas City area court proceedings.
KCAVP can also provide assistance such as short-term housing, transportation, food and other necessities to victims. The group provides 10 free counseling sessions for victims of anti-LGBT violence with a licensed therapist.
There are three types of anti-LGBT violence: bias crimes, sexual assault and domestic violence.
Bias crimes are also known as hate crimes. These are offenses committed against a person or property out of hatred for who the victims are or the perception of who they are. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 extended federal recognition of bias crimes to include those committed based upon actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.
Sexual assault is sexual contact committed without a person’s consent. Legal definitions vary by jurisdiction. With the advent of modern technology — online dating sites, proximity detectors and the like — it can be easy to find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation more quickly than ever. KCAVP has tips about taking precautions during events, outings or meetings.
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. KCAVP’s website explains how to recognize the signs of abuse from an intimate/domestic partner or spouse. KCAVP does statistical reporting to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), including domestic violence (intimate-partner violence). NCAVP’s report for 2011 concerning LGBTQ and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) intimate-partner violence showed a 22.2 percent drop in reports of LGBTQH intimate-partner violence, but the report documents 19 homicides — the highest number ever recorded in this category. The 2010 report showed six.
According to Shaw, the Los Angeles anti-violence entity lost its funding for last year. This fact and others, such as inconsistent methodology, make this report imprecise. But the homicide statistic alone is extremely alarming. If you suspect that you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, go to KCAVP.org to learn the signs. Help those around you, especially young people, to understand what constitutes a healthy LGBT relationship.
Help from police
In the past, the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) has not been receptive to the idea of a specific LGBT community liaison within its structure. However, recent interactions with both Police Chief Darryl Forté and Lisa Pelofsky, president of the KCPD Board of Commissioners, have given Shaw reason to be optimistic along these lines.
“We don’t automatically call the police,” said Shaw, referring to KCAVP’s policy of client confidentiality. Therefore the statistics about anti-LGBT crimes can differ between police and anti-violence groups. Working together to stop violence would be a welcome enhancement.
Please store KCAVP’s number — 816-561-0550 — in your cell phone. You can sign up for the newsletter at KCAVP.org.