A person of any gender or sexual orientation can be sexually assaulted. We know that violence is perpetrated within LBGT+ communities, and we also know that lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and gender non-conforming people experience some of the highest rates of sexual violence, perpetrated by non-members of this community. LGBT+ individuals are often targeted for sexual violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identities. In this way, sexual violence is used as a form of power, oppression, and control to maintain heterosexism and traditional gender norms and hierarchies of privilege.
- Same-sex sexual assault may include non-consensual vaginal or anal penetration, oral sex, touching, or any other type of sexual activity.
- Same-sex sexual assaut can happen on a date, between friends, partners, or strangers.
- Same-sex survivors are even less likely than others to report the assault to the police or seek counseling after it occurs.
- Most survivors of same-sex assault report additional barriers to seeking support, which leads to very little data complied about same-sex violence.
Learn more about Queer Support, a free, confidential, off-campus support group for LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence or past or present sexual abuse. The group is facilitated by the Anti-Violence Project of OutFront Minnesota and meets weekly at the Minneapolis offices of OutFront Minnesota. To learn more or sign up, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Common Barriers for Same-Sex Survivors
- Not being taken seriously or having their experience minimized.
- Not having their experience named as sexual assault or rape.
- Having to explain their experience in more detail than one would ask a heterosexual survivor or a survivor of male-female assault.
- Having to educate those they reach out to.
- Having their experience sensationalized.
- Increasing people’s homophobia or being seen as a traitor in their community because they told their story to straight people.
- Mistakenly being seen as the perpetrator.
- Being blamed for the assault.
- Not being understood.
- Being treated in a homophobic manner by police, hospital staff, rape crisis center, counselors and others.
- Being “outed” (having their sexual orientation revealed without their consent).
Adapted from materials from Emily McWilliams, MS, and “Support for Survivors-Training for Sexual Assault Counselors” California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 1999
A hate crime is a crime in which the perpetrator intentionally selects a victim because of their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, gender expression or identity, disability, or sexual orientation.
Homophobia in our culture puts LBGT+ people at greater risk for sexual assault and other forms of violence. It is common for perpetrators to use sexual violence as a way to humiliate someone for being LBGT+. These violent acts express the perpetrator’s belief that an LBGT+ person is not worthy of respect and dignity.
It should be noted that a person can be the victim of an anti-LBGT hate crime yet identify as straight. If one is attacked because one either identifies as LBGT+ or is perceived as being LGBT+, then one is the victim of a hate crime. In these cases, perpetrators may verbally abuse their victims and imply that they deserved to be sexually assaulted because they are perceived to be a part of the LGBT+ community.
Transgender students are particularly vulnerable to many forms of violence because of our culture’s discomfort with gender ambiguity and/or their perceived sexual orientation. A 2011 report offers statistics on the disproportionately high rates of violence that transgender individuals face, particularly transgender individuals of color. View the report “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.”
In a relationship, abusers may leverage power over their transgender partners by threatening to reveal their gender identity to others. Transgender survivors of sexual assault or intimate partner violence may face increased barriers to accessing medical care and other assistance as well. Though staff at many agencies are well-trained at dealing with gender issues, this is not true everywhere.
If you have experienced sexual assault or a hate crime, contact Title IX and Bias Harassment Coordinator Timothy J. Dunn at email@example.com or 651-696-6258.