April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual violence affects every demographic and every community – including a disproportionate number of LGBTQ people.
The LGBTQ community faces higher rates of poverty, stigma and marginalization, putting us at greater risk for sexual assault. We also face higher rates of hate-motivated violence, which can sometimes take the form of sexual assault. Moreover, the ways in which society both hypersexualizes LGBTQ people and stigmatizes our relationships can lead to intimate partner violence that stems from internalized homophobia and shame. The stigma that many LGBTQ people face can make it more difficult for survivors to report.
Studies suggest that nearly half of bisexual women have been raped and half of transgender people will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetimes. Those numbers are even higher for the bisexual and transgender people who are also people of color or people with disabilities, making these groups vulnerable to further disparities that occur at the intersections of ableism, biphobia, racism and transphobia.
According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national survey of high school students, lesbian and bisexual women and gay and bisexual men experienced higher rates of sexual assault than their straight counterparts. In addition, a 2015 study by the Association of American Universities found that 60 percent of gay and lesbian students and nearly 70 percent of bisexual students report being sexually harassed on campus.
Last year, the Trump-Pence administration withdrew Title IX guidance around schools' obligations to address sexual harassment, including sexual violence. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions also withdrew important guidance that clarified schools’ obligations to protect transgender students from discrimination under Title IX.
With all these obstacles, it can make an already incredibly isolating experience worse and hard to know where to turn for help. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are some LGBTQ-friendly resources listed below:
National Sexual Assault Hotline – can also refer you to a local rape crisis center
1-800-656-HOPE (4673) 24/7 or
Online Counseling at https://ohl.rainn.org/online/
Love is Respect Hotline
1-866-331-99474 (24/7) or Text “loveis” 22522
The Anti-Violence Project– serves people who are LGBTQ
Hotline: 212-714-1124 Bilingual 24/7