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By Jenna Allen

 

When sexual assault statistics are quoted, the numbers are stark: every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted,[1] 1 in 6 women are the victims of sexual assault, and 1 in 33 men are the victims of sexual assault.[2] However, these statistics often leave out one of the most vulnerable groups – the LGBTQ+ community. Here are some of their statistics:

  • 64% of transgender or non-gender conforming people will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime.[3]
  • 21% of transgender or non-gender conforming students report being sexually assaulted while on campus.[4]
  • 46% of bisexual women are the reported victims of sexual assault.[5]
  • 40% of gay men have experienced sexual assault.5
  • 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual assault.5
  • 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.5
  • 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.5

These numbers are staggering, and yet are so often unreported. And not just by the media, who focus more often on heterosexual/cis gender statistics, but the LGBTQ+ community often don’t feel safe reporting their assaults or telling their stories either. Not only do they have to deal with guilt as many survivors do – the use of drugs, alcohol, or “risky” social situations can make victims believe (wrongly) that they are at fault for the assault. But sexual identity can also make reporting difficult because of the discrimination faced, not only from the police, but also hospitals, shelters, and even hotlines. Some assault survivors are denied treatment because of their sexual orientation or gender. Others don’t think they will be believed – the heterosexual/cis gender narrative of a sexual assault occurring between a male and a female makes it harder for other victims to tell their stories.

Police don’t always know how to report or react to testimonies of violence against queer and non-gender conforming assault victims, and there is still a pervasive belief that men cannot be assaulted. The idea that, for males, all sex is consensual sex is ridiculous, but the “real men don’t get raped” idea is still alive and well in this rape culture society. This makes it feel not only difficult but dangerous for male survivors to report their assaults.

So what can we do to change this narrative, and hopefully the statistics? First, we need to listen, create safe spaces for sharing stories, and validate the reports coming from the LGBTQ+ community. Then, we need to advocate with and for them, so that they can receive the same care, treatment, and support as their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts – because sexual identity and/or gender should never be a barrier, or make it easier for vulnerable groups to be victimized or become voiceless.

If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community and have been the victim of an assault: we believe you, we support you, and it wasn’t your fault. If you want to share your story, A Voice for the Innocent has created a safe space for you do talk to others with similar experiences. You are not alone.

Resources for LGBTQ+ sexual assault survivors include:

Crisis Test Line * Text: “VOICE” to 741741 * https://www.crisistextline.org

National Sexual Assault Hotline * Call: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) 24/7 * https://ohl.rainn.org/online/

Love is Respect Hotline * Call: 1-866-331-99474 (24/7) *Text: “loveis” 22522 * http://www.loveisrespect.org/

The Anti-Violence Project * Call: 212-714-1124 (Bilingual 24/7) * http://www.avp.org/

Sources:

[1] Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2010-2014 (2015).

[2] National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey (1998).

[3] Injustice at every turn: A report of the national transgender discrimination survey. http://www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf

[4] David Cantor, Bonnie Fisher, Susan Chibnall, Reanna Townsend, et. al. Association of American Universities (AAU), Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct (September 21, 2015).

[5] NISVS: An Overview of 2010 Findings  on Victimization by Sexual Orientation https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/cdc_nisvs_victimization_final-a.pdf

 

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