April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to stand with survivors, raise awareness and reflect on how communities are affected by violence. While sexual violence is pervasive in all demographics and communities, it is critical to understand the ways in which the LGBTQ community is disporportionately affected.
Within the LGBTQ community, transgender people of color and bisexual women face especially alarming rates of sexual violence that begin earlier in life, often during childhood.
- The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
- Among people of color, American Indian (65%), multiracial (59%), Middle Eastern (58%) and Black (53%) respondents to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey are the most likely groups to have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half (48%) of bisexual women who are rape survivors experienced their first rape between ages 11 and 17.
LGBTQ people endure higher rates of poverty, stigma and marginalization, which means that the LGBTQ community is at a greater risk for violence, including sexual assault. Moreover, the ways in which society both hypersexualizes LGBTQ people and stigmatizes LGBTQ relationships can lead to intimate partner violence that stems from internalized homophobia and shame.
Additionally, for LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault, LGBTQ identities -- and the discrimination faced surrounding those identities -- often make LGBTQ people hesitant to seek support from police, hospitals, shelters or rape crisis centers, the very resources that are supposed to help.
LGBTQ people, allies and advocates must work together to address this epidemic of sexual violence. As a community, we need to talk about how sexual violence uniquely affects LGBTQ people and how to better care for survivors.
Last year, HRC’s Sarah McBride spoke out about her own experience of sexual assault months after coming out as transgender and how discrimination and stigma affected her. "We need to know that we are safe and protected from discrimination in accessing the kind of services, care and support that every survivor of sexual assault deserves."
With all this in mind, experiencing sexual violence can be extremely isolating. 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://hotline.rainn.org/online
1-866-331-99474 (24/7) or Text “loveis” 22522
Hotline: 212-714-1124 Bilingual 24/7
Hotline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743) or
Online Chat at http://www.volunteerlogin.org/chat/
FORGE– serves transgender and gender nonconforming survivors of domestic and sexual violence; provides referrals to local counselors
The Network La Red – serves LGBTQ, poly and kink/BDSM survivors of abuse; bilingual
Northwest Network– serves LGBT survivors of abuse; can provide local referrals