Sexual violence is devastating. The added barriers to reaching out for resources when you identify as on the LGBTQ spectrum can be overwhelming. An LGBTQ person may be less likely to report an assault or get help out of fear that they will be blamed for the assault because of their “lifestyle,” by friends, family, or officials.
The University of Idaho and the Dean of Students Office takes sexual assault seriously. We are a welcoming environment for all individuals, as is Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, the confidential nonprofit victim services agency here on the Palouse. ATVP offers a 24-hour hotline at (208) 883-4357 (HELP). These Resources are here to help.
The following information is provided by WCSAP, the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, and the Northwest Network, a Seattle-based organization founded by and for LGBTQ survivors and offering numerous resources for survivors, their friends and families.
Here at UI, our LGTBQ Office is a great resource for students, and Inland Oasis is the local nonprofit community organization that provides services for LGBTQA individuals, ranging from free HIV testing and condoms to a gender-variant and youth support groups. Check out this complete list of Resources. Please note: the use of pronouns is used with the acknowledgment that not all individuals identify on the gender-specific spectrum.
Sexual assault and domestic violence are serious concerns for members of LGBT/Queer communities, as they are for all people. Sexual assault and domestic violence can affect LGBT individuals in a number of ways:
- 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 their sexual and/or gender identities. 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.
Sexual Assault and Hate Crimes
- 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.
Domestic violence and sexual assault have long gone unnoticed in queer communities because of homophobia and ignorance. For example, some people may believe that domestic violence always involves a male abuser and a female victim. Others may believe that rape always involves penetration by a penis. These beliefs do not allow for the possibility of violence within a same-sex relationship. It is important to note that queer people as well as heterosexuals may hold these beliefs.
There are many myths and stereotypes about sexual assault. But when you add in myths and prejudices about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning people, a survivor faces even more misconceptions.
Sexual assault survivors of all backgrounds and orientations often go through similar feelings like persistent fear, flashbacks, sleep problems, guilt, shame, anger, and difficulty trusting.
Sexual Assault is not only rape; it is also ANY type of unwanted sexual contact. Everyone has the right to decide what they do or don’t want to do sexually. Not all sexual assaults are violent “attacks”; in fact 80 – 90% of sexual assault survivors know their perpetrator. Forcing or pressuring someone to do something they don’t want to do or consent to is sexual assault.
- Myths and prejudices may put LGBTQ people at increased risk for sexual assault:
- A person may be targeted for a hate crime based on their appearance, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
- Women often assume that other women are never violent and may not be as cautious when engaging with other females.
Survivors risk that they will be confronted with prejudice at a time
when they are very vulnerable and need understanding.