There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual violence in the LGBTQ community. The fact is, the LGBTQ population faces the same forms of sexual violence that the rest of the population does. What’s more, sexual violence is often used as a hate crimes tactic to target the LGBTQ population. These communities also have a harder time reporting sexual violence due to increased barriers like homophobia and the fear of being outed. This is especially true of female identified same sex partners, who are often times not believed when reporting due to the common myth that women cannot be perpetrators of sexual violence.
Here are some helpful stats about sexual violence in the LGBTQ population. I found these statistics on RAINN’s Website (www.RAINN.org) and from the wonderful publication that I describe below:
- Six percent of all anti-LGBT hate crimes are incidents of sexual assault or forcible rape.
- More than half of gay men and lesbians report at least one incident of sexual coercion by a same-sex partner.
- It is often thought that the larger, “butcher” partner will be the assailant in a same-sex assault; however, size or gender identity does not determine who the abusive partner is.
- Bisexual, transgendered, lesbian, and gay people experience violence within their intimate relationships at about the same rates as heterosexuals (Waldner-Haugrud, 1997; AVP, 1992)
- 30% of lesbians report having experienced sexual assault or rape by another woman (not necessarily an intimate partner) (Renzetti, 1992)
- 15% of men living with a male intimate partner report being raped, assaulted or stalked by a male cohabitant (CDC, 1999)
- LGBT individuals may experience abuse during their childhood. They may be abused by parents or others who are intolerant of homosexuality. They may be targeted for sexual abuse by adults that recognize their “difference.”
- Over 11% of gay and lesbian youth report being physical attacked by family members (Hetrick-Martin Institute, 1988)
- 42% of homeless youth, many of whom have run away from home to escape violence, self-identify as gay/lesbian. (Victim Services, 1991) LGBT persons face additional challenges in healing from childhood sexual assault, due to myths that childhood sexual assault may have “caused” them to be gay.
- A study of gay, lesbian and bisexual adults showed that 41% reported being a victim of a hate crime after the age of 16. (Herek, 1999) Sexual violence is more common among LGBT hate crimes, assailants may use rape to “punish” victims for what they view as their sexual transgressions.
Because of the particular barriers that the LGBTQ community faces when reporting or talking about their assault, the transition to survivorhood can be even more difficult. It is important that as a community we recognize this difficulty and provide education and resources for LGBTQ survivors and allies to help the healing process. While conducting research for some PAVE educational materials I stumbled upon this wonderful resource, Setting The Stage: Strategies for Supporting LGBTIQ survivors. that was published by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs that does just that! I encourage you as an individual, advocate, counselor, friend, survivor, social service agency, etc to read through this wonderful publication.
You can download a PDF of the WCSAP’s Setting The Stage: Strategies for Supporting LGBTIQ Survivors by clicking here. Please use this resources to support hte LGBTQ survivors in your life!