Tania Israel, a faculty member in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School, testified to a U.S. Congressional briefing in support of the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) on February 11, prior to the U.S. Senate voting overwhelmingly to expand the Act. (At the time of this release, the House has yet to vote on the legislation.) Israel – part of a panel brought together by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) – specifically addressed the portions of VAWA that would expand protections for LGBT women.
Israel supported the notion that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender women are an “underserved population” with respect to violence against women. She explained the distinctive features of intimate partner violence in such relationships – such as the threat of being outed to one’s workplace, family, or friends – and also elaborated upon a series of myths (e.g., women are not violent by nature) that can create barriers to accessing social support and legal and mental health services. She provided statistics abut barriers to effective law enforcement response, shelter response, and metal health response.
“There is ample evidence that LGBT people are an underserved population with regard to intimate partner violence and sexual assault,” Israel concluded. “The provision of funding for research, outreach, training, and services under the VAWA reauthorization could help to address the unique needs of this underserved population to reduce violence and increase access to services for all women.”
The entire SPSSI briefing video is available on-line. Israel’s testimony begins at 4:10.
Dr. Israel was named an Emerging Leader for Women in Psychology at the 2012 American Psychological Association (APA) Convention. She has served as the President of the Society of Counseling Psychology (Division 17). She has served as a lead coordinator for the National Multicultural Conference and Summit, has published over 40 articles and chapters, and has provided over 40 scholarly presentations. Dr. Israel is a Fellow of the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues (Division 44). She was the recipient of a five-year career development award from the National Institute of Mental Health to advance her work as a researcher focusing on mental health services for LGBT clients.