The LGBT Community & Sexual Assault
I wrote this presentation for an internship at a Sexual Assault Counseling Center, and adapted it for a Take Back the Night event that I was a part of in college. If you’d like the actual presentation, let me know and I’d be happy to send it along!
The LGBT Community and Sexual Assault
Sexual Assault Awareness is important to the LGBT community because sexual assault and domestic violence are important, and often time silent, problems in the LGBTQ community. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender does not exclude you from sexual assault and domestic violence.
Definition of Sexual Assault and Rape
Sexual assault is any sexual contact that is against a person’s will or without consent. This includes situations where force, violence or weapons are used as well as situations where the victim is too intoxicated or scared to give consent.
Rape is defined as penetration against a person’s will or without consent and chiefly by force or deception. The rapist can be a man or a woman, and the victim can be a man or a woman as well.
Rape is About Power
Myth: Only gay men sexually assault other men.
Reality: Most men who sexually assault other men identify themselves as heterosexual. This fact helps to highlight another reality — that sexual assault is about violence, anger and control over another person, not lust or sexual attraction.
Consent is an agreement that two people must make if they want to have sex. The issue of consent can be a complicated and ambiguous area that needs to be addressed with clear, open and honest communication.
- Both partners needs to be fully conscious and aware.
- Both partners are equally free to act.
- Both partners should clearly communicate their willingness and permission.
- Both partners are positive and sincere in their desires.
Communication and Consent
- Keep in mind that communicating about sex is a skill that takes practice.
- Remember that better communication means better sex.
- Be honest and open about feeling nervous to talk about sex with your partner.
- Ask your partner about his/her boundaries and desires first.
- Don’t wait until you are already in the action. Plan ahead and bring it up at a different time.
Same Sex Sexual Assault
LGBT victims are even less likely than straight survivors to report the assault. There is often a tendency to blame their victimization on their sexual orientation or gender orientation.
Why It’s Hard to Seek Support After Sexual Assault
- Reporting is deterred by lack of competent “queer-friendly” helpers who are sensitive to same-sex assault or violence.
- There could be a reporting process which “outs” the survivor, or may “out” the community.
Woman to Woman Assault
- Survivors often experience a sense of betrayal and disbelief that a woman could assault another woman.
- Woman-to-woman assaults are often trivialized or viewed as harmless “cat fights” with no real victim and no injury. This is an inaccurate misconception.
- Woman-to-woman assaults are rarely perpetrated by strangers, or by heterosexual women.
- Although there is typically no concern for pregnancy, there is the possibility of internal injuries and sexually transmitted infections.
Man to Man Assault
- Men hesitate to report a sexual assault due to fears of blame, disbelief or intolerance by police or medical personnel.
- The most common male-to-male assault is the rape of a man who is perceived to be gay by a heterosexual man.
- As assault of a heterosexual man sometimes leads him to question his sexual orientation. Male-to-male assaults also occur between gay men.
- Male victims often react with more overt anger than women do.
Sexual Assault Statistics and Facts
- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have been assaulted by age 18, regardless of sexual orientation.
- 60% of male rapes were perpetrated by their partners.
- 600,000 rapes are reported to the police in the US each year.
- An estimated 6,000,000 rapes occur each year.
- 31% of lesbians and 12% of gay men have been sexually assaulted. (Psychological Reports, 1990)
- Victims or sexual assault are 26 more times likely to abuse drugs.
- LGBT people are more likely than heterosexual individuals to be sexually assaulted by strangers. This would be motivated by fear and hatred of homosexuality.
It is NEVER the Survivor’s Fault
- Your attacker was an acquaintance, date, friend or partner.
- You have been sexually intimate with that person or others before.
- You were drinking or using drugs.
- You froze and did not or could not say “no”, or were unable to fight back physically.
How to Help a Survivor
- Listen, don’t judge. Just try to understand the survivor’s feelings.
- Offer to have them stay with you, or you with them.
- Give comfort and support.
- Encourage your friend to seek professional help.
- Accept the person’s choices about what to do regarding the assault.
- Be patient.
Help and Support Are Available
- The 24 HR National Sexual Assault Hotline by RAINN: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
- Gay & Lesbian National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
- National Domestic Violence Helpline: 1-800-799-7233
- La red (ending abuse in same-sex relationships): 617-742-4911
- National Gay and Lesbian Youth Hotline, 1-800-347-TEEN
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Youth Support Line
- The Trevor Helpline: 866-4-U-TREVOR
- Rainbow Youth Hotline: 877-LGBT-YTH (1-877-542-8984)