The LGBTQ+ Community and Sexual Violence

The Intersectionality of Gender and Sexuality

When it comes to facing obstacles, the LGBTQ+ community is no stranger. This is unfortunately also true when it comes to sexual violence. Sexual violence can affect anyone regardless of demographic, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the LGBTQ+ community is at a considerably higher risk than their straight counterparts. One in ten will experience intimate partner violence, and half of transgender and bisexual women will experience sexual violence.

There are a variety of reasons why the numbers are so high for sexual assault. This includes higher rates of hate crimes, marginalization, and poverty putting them at more risk. This is a common scenario if someone is outed before they are ready, and are kicked out of their home if their family does not support them. Society also stigmatizes queer relationships, leading to hypersexualizing of the LGBTQ+ community. This often comes from how people only talk about queer relationships in relation to sex or when they are talking about drag queens. Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community goes so far beyond just what happens in the bedroom. Depending on how someone is raised, the potential shame that comes from being queer can create internalized homophobia. This can result in intimate partner violence if they do end up in a relationship. There is constant pressure to be in a “perfect” relationship to prove homophobes wrong.

There may also be fear that one’s partner will “out” them if they don’t do what they want.
All of these constant roadblocks can make reporting unnecessarily difficult. When it comes to identity, the fear of being harassed or discriminated against makes survivors even more hesitant than a straight person might be to access services. Additionally, it’s possible to be denied services that are there to help, simply because of gender identity or sexual orientation. It is sickeningly wrong on multiple levels. My heart breaks for every person who has been a victim of sexual violence, but especially for those who cannot disclose their pain due to their identity.

Sexual violence within the LGBTQ+ community is an epidemic, and there needs to be more acceptance and help for that specific demographic. Culturally, there needs to be a shift to more empathy and protection for queer people. For a start, this can include laws preventing discrimination and protecting gender-affirming care. This will lead to more resources becoming available, without the attached stigma. When it comes to sexual violence, assisting the survivor is key. Victim blaming is never the right thing to do. If you are a victim, know that I believe in and support you, and there are others who do as well. What happened to you was not your fault. Only share this information with others if you feel comfortable doing so, especially if you are still in the closet and do not feel safe coming out yet.

There are multiple resources you can reach out to if you are a queer survivor. This includes the “Love is Respect” hotline at 1-866-331-99474 (24/7) (or Text “loveis” 22522) and the “LGBT National Help Center” at 1-888-843-4564. At NDSU, you can reach out to a trusted person who has undergone training, such as your hall director or RA. You can also call the counseling center at any time at (701) 231-7671. Or you can contact Megan Talcott, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Advocacy Coordinator at (701) 231-5733.
You are not alone.

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