It's not easy to determine who is the primary aggressor in an intimate-partner violence (IPV) situation involving same-gender couples, says Amy Loudermilk.
''What we're seeing is that it's much harder for anybody to figure out who is really the aggressor in LGBT cases, where it's not as hard in heterosexual cases,'' says Loudermilk, who serves as co-chair of the Rainbow Response Coalition, which works to quell intimate-partner violence among LGBT people.
''We can generally tell if there are big size differences in people. Offensive marks and defensive marks are going to show up differently in people who are of much different sizes. But in LGBT cases … you have to rely on other indicators, in addition to the physical indicators, to figure out who is the primary aggressor.''
Rainbow Response introduced those other indicators to nearly 30 Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers, on Wednesday, June 16, during the second round of training for officers affiliated with MPD's Special Liaison Units (SLU), which include the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU). The first round of SLU training took place during five days in November and December 2009.
''We're trying to avoid officers coming to a scene and seeing injuries on both parties and then just arresting both parties.''
Loudermilk says Rainbow Response collaborated with current members of the GLLU as well as MPD generally in preparing materials for the training, which included two days of ''in-class instructions'' and one field day.
''We relied on their feedback and their expertise about where officers are coming from. It helped inform our curriculum and I think that's why our hour of training went so well. We had a much better idea of where people were coming from.''
Other organizations that participated in the training included Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence, Transgender Health Empowerment and the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League.
Loudermilk says she feels ''encouraged'' by the partnership Rainbow Response has formed with MPD.
''We've developed a very strong partnership with [MPD continuing-education director] Eric Waldt, and he's actually talking about repeating this training on a quarterly basis and then expanding it so that all of MPD gets this training.''
For more information about Rainbow Response, visit rainbowresponse.org.