Past and present policies, laws, and beliefs illustrate how the imbalances of power foster the prolonged oppression and marginalization of specific groups of people within our society. It is within this system that the root causes of sexual violence, power and control, are able to grow as well. Individuals in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community are members of one of the groups who have been impacted by these dynamics. For example, for 17 years the United States Armed Forces utilized the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibited gay and lesbian individuals from being open about their sexual orientation while serving in the military. In the mental health and medical community, homosexuality was viewed as a disorder that could be cured and was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) from 1968 to 1973 (Drescher, 2015). Additionally, same-sex couples did not have the right to become legally married or adopt children in every state until a Supreme Court decision in 2015.
When people are viewed as inferior, abnormal, and less deserving of the rights and privileges that others have, the impacts are significant. In fact, LGBTQ individuals experience higher rates of sexual violence than individuals who identify as heterosexual. 1 in 2 transgender individuals, 40% of gay men, and 47% of bi-sexual men will experience some form of sexual violence within their lifetime. Further, 1 in 8 lesbian women and 46% of bi-sexual women have experienced rape (Center for Disease Control & The National Center for Transgender Equality).
While the impacts of sexual violence are different for many survivors, LGBTQ folks typically face additional, unique barriers when disclosing their experiences and throughout their healing process. These can include:
Further experiences of discrimination, harassment, or acts of homophobia or transphobia when reporting or disclosing their experience(s) of sexual violence.
Increased feelings of isolation, fear, and shame due to a lack of effective services or support systems.
Minimization or denial of the occurrence of sexual violence between same-sex couples from service providers, family members, or friends.
LGBTQ survivors of sexual violence deserve access to effective and appropriate services. A truly inclusive space is one where a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity are acknowledged and the common barriers that LGBTQ individuals are met with are recognized and addressed.
At DASACC, we believe survivors regardless of their gender or sexual orientation and are committed to providing services that work towards reducing the difficulties that LGBTQ individuals face. Below are other valuable resources for LGBTQ survivors that are listed on the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s (RAINN) website.
GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project: Website, information and hotline for GLBTQ victims of domestic violence and their families. Hotline: 800.832.1901
the Network la Red: The Network/La Red hotline provides emotional support, information, and safety planning for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and/or transgender folks, as well as folks in the BDSM or Polyamorous communities who are being abused or have been abused by a partner. Support available in English and Spanish. Hotline: 617.742.4911
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs: A coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct and other forms of victimization. Site has a list of local anti-violence programs and publications. Hotline: 212.714.1141
The Trevor Project: Help and suicide prevention for GBLTQ youth. Hotline: 866.488.7386
GLBT National Hotline: Call center that refers to over 15,000 resources across the country that support LGBTQ individuals. Hotline: 888.THE.GLNH (843.4564)
FORGE (For Ourselves: Reworking Gender Expression): Home to the Transgender Sexual Violence Project. Provides services and publishes research for transgender persons experiencing violence and their loved ones.
Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling: Directory of LGBT-friendly mental health specialists across the United States. Specialists listed are verified members of AGLBTIC, a division of the American Counseling Association.
Drescher J. (2015). Out of DSM: Depathologizing Homosexuality. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 5(4), 565–575. doi:10.3390/bs5040565