Students belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community report higher rates of sexual victimization while enrolled in college and this population are less likely to report an incident. Approximately 1 in 8 lesbian women and nearly half of bisexual women experience rape in their lifetime, and statistics likely increase when a broader definition of sexual assault is used. Nearly half of bisexual men and four in ten gay men have experienced sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime, and though statistics regarding rape vary, it is likely that the rate is higher or comparable to heterosexual men. As with most hate-based violence, transgender individuals are the most likely to be affected in the LGBT community. A staggering 64% of transgender people have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime (National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2014).
At Rutgers University we want all students to feel supported and understand that a person of any gender or sexual orientation can be sexually assaulted. Although violence exists within LBGTQIA+ communities, it is also important to understand that Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, and Queer people are also targeted for sexual violence based on their sexual orientation and all people, regardless of sexual orientation, can be targets based on their perceived gender expression. In these cases sexual violence is used as a form of control to maintain heterosexism.
Intimate Partner Violence
If you are being abused by an intimate partner of the same-sex, you may experience a broad range of feelings including denial, confusion, and shame. Women who have been assaulted by another woman may believe that it isn’t possible for a woman to rape another woman; that sexual assault is only perpetuated by men. In many cases, this stems from a belief that lesbian sex is not “real sex.” The misconception then follows that if lesbians aren’t considered able to have sex then they certainly cannot sexually assault one another. This is not true. Considering that men are taught from a young age that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness, gay men may have feelings of shame or inadequacy connected to being sexually assaulted that make them reluctant to admit or report their assault. In order to understand same-sex sexual assault and to work toward its prevention, it is important to acknowledge and commit to challenge homophobia and transphobia.
Common Barriers for Same-Sex Survivors
- Not being taken seriously or having their experience minimized
- Not having their experience called 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)
The University has resources for all students and students that identify as LGBTQA can seek counseling at the following resources:
Violence Prevention Victim Assistance (24/7 availability)
Counseling, ADAP and Psychiatric Services
Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities
* Please understand that if you speak with someone listed as private they are required to report the information to the Title IX Coordinator on-campus. However, as a student you are able to determine if you would like to move forward with a University or criminal process. If you have questions or concerns about this please feel free to contact the Title IX Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 848-932-8200.
Adapted from Macalester University website and materials from McWilliams (1999) “Support for Survivors-Training for Sexual Assault Counselors”, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault
National Center for Lesbian Rights (2014). Sexual Assault in the LGBT Community.
Walters, M. L., & Breiding, M. J. (2013). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 findings on victimization by sexual orientation. Atlanta, Georgia: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.