In our society, having a sexual orientation or gender identity – real or perceived – that differs from heterosexual and the mainstream puts one at higher risk for sexual violence. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people were three times more likely to report sexual violence and/or harassment compared to heterosexual people who reported to NCAVP in 2010.1 Additionally, most studies reveal that approximately 50% of transgender people experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.2
Survivors who identity as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) face unique challenges in healing from sexual violence. Here are a few ways in which sexual violence specifically impacts LGBTQ communities:
- Survivors who are not “out” may experience additional barriers in reaching out to service providers or the police.
- Guilt and self-blame may cause the survivor to question their gender identity and/or sexuality.
- Fear that there is nowhere to turn for help due to homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia from police, courts, and services providers.
- LGBTQ communities might not recognize that sexual violence occurs in LBGTQ communities or recognize it as a significant community issue.
Anyone may experience sexual violence in their lifetime, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. If you are a survivor and would like to talk to somebody more about your experience, please call our Support Line at 1-800-822-5999.
1 Walters, M.L., Chen J., & Breiding, M.J. (2013). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_sofindings.pdf
2 Stotzer, R. (2009). Violence against transgender people: A review of United States data. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14, 170-179
NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) communities.
Maine Transgender Network, Inc. is a nonprofit that provides support and resources for the transgender community, families, and significant others, and raises awareness about the varied forms of gender identity and expression by providing training and consultation for mental health and social service professionals.
FORGE (For Ourselves: Reworking Gender Expression) is a national organization whose mission is to support, educate and advocate for the rights and lives of transgender individuals and SOFFAs (Significant Others, Friends, Family, and Allies).