Sexual Assault & the LGBTQIA Community Porterville College

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This presentation includes reading, videos, web links, and other content regarding sexual assault & the LGBTQIA community. It is possible that something you read/watch during this presentation will trigger an emotional response, whether or not you have experienced sexual violence yourself. Please seek help if needed.

PC student and employee recourses:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA) Survivors of Sexual Violence

Sexual violence affects people of every gender identity, and sexual orientation. People who identify as part of the LGBTQIA communities also experience sexual violence, and may face different or additional challenges in accessing legal, medical, law enforcement or other resources than other populations.

LGBTQIA people are nearly four times more likely than non-LGBTQIA people to be victims of violent crime (2020 Article)

Researchers analyzed data from the 2017 National Crime Victimization Survey, the first nationally representative and comprehensive criminal victimization data to include information on the sexual orientation and gender identity of respondents.

Results showed that, in 2017, LGBTQIA people experienced 71.1 victimizations per 1,000 people, compared to 19.2 victimizations per 1,000 people for non-LGBTQIA people. LGBTQIA people had higher rates of serious violence victimization in almost every type of violent crime except robbery, which showed no significant difference between LGBTQIA and non-LGBTQIA people.

Andrew R. Flores, Affiliated Scholar at the Williams Institute ( UCLA School of Law October 2, 2020) stated:

It is clear that LGBTQIA people are at greater risk of violent victimization, but the question is why. One plausible cause is anti-LGBTQIA prejudice at home, work, or school, which would make LGBTQIA people particularly vulnerable to victimization in numerous areas of their everyday life

Effects of sexual violence

As an LGBTQIA survivor of sexual violence, you may face many of the same emotions and challenges as other survivors, but also might encounter additional hurdles. Below are some common reactions to experiencing sexual violence that both LGBTQIA survivors and others may experience.

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Common reactions to experiencing sexual violence

  • Wanting to be believed. Not feeling believed or worrying that you won’t be believed.
  • Wondering if it’s your fault. Feeling shame, guilt, or like it is your fault. You may be going over the assault in your mind many times to try to figure out if you did something wrong. It was not your fault.
  • Feeling alone. You may feel that you are the only person who has been through sexual assault, or you may worry that others will judge or misunderstand if you tell them.
  • You may face disbelief that sexual violence affects LGBTQIA people. You may encounter people who mistakenly believe that this doesn’t happen to LGBTQIA people, which may make it harder to feel that your story is believed.
  • It can be difficult to self-identify as a survivor. For many survivors it can be difficult to identify an experience as sexual violence. However, it can be challenging to identify as a survivor if the assault does not fit your idea of what sexual violence looks like or who may be involved with it.
  • Telling someone might be difficult if you are not out yet. If you have not yet come out to friends or family about your gender identity or sexual orientation, you may feel less able to disclose sexual assault to them.
  • You may not find support in some faith communities. Many survivors find strength and healing in their faith, but you may encounter difficulty finding the support you deserve if your faith community does not affirm your sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ways you can support LGBTQIA survivors

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do when someone you care about tells you they have experienced sexual violence. The reaction of the first person a survivor discloses to can affect if they choose to tell others or seek additional resources. Remember to listen without judgement, acknowledge the difficulty of what they went through, and tell them that you care about them.

  • Listen. Many people in crisis feel as though no one understands them and that they are not taken seriously. Show them they matter by giving your undivided attention. It is challenging for many survivors to disclose an assault, especially if they are not out yet and by disclosing would have to come out at the same time, so drop what you are doing and be there for them.
  • Validate their feelings. Avoid making overly positive statements like “It will get better” or trying to manage their emotions, like “Snap out of it” or “You shouldn’t feel so bad.” Make statements like “I believe you” or “That sounds like a really hard thing to go through.”
  • Express concern. Tell them in a direct way that you care about them by saying something like “I care about you” or “I am here for you.”
  • Use inclusive language that affirms the survivor’s gender identity and sexual orientation. Rather than assuming someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation, use neutral language like “partner” or “date” instead of “boyfriend/girlfriend.” Try not to assume what someone’s gender identity or preferred pronouns are; it’s a better idea to let them tell you, or you can ask what they prefer. You can always use “they” instead of “he/she” if you are unsure.
  • Do not ask about details of the assault. Even if you are curious about what happened and feel that you want to fully understand it, avoid asking for details of how the assault occurred. However, if a survivor chooses to share those details with you, try your best to listen in a supportive and non-judgmental way.

Supportive things to say to a survivor

“I believe you” and “It took a lot of courage to tell me about this.” It can be extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed. Be careful not to interpret calmness as a sign that the event did not occur—everyone responds to traumatic events differently. The best thing you can do is to believe them.

“It’s not your fault” and “You didn’t do anything to deserve this.” Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally or were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the assault occurred. Remind the survivor, maybe even more than once, that they are not to blame.

“You are not alone” and “I care about you and am here to listen or help in any way I can.” Let the survivor know that you are there for them and willing to listen to their story if they are comfortable sharing it and that you do not judge them for what happened. Ask them if there are others in their life they also feel comfortable going to, and let them know about the help that is available through the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

“I’m sorry this happened” and “This shouldn’t have happened to you.” Acknowledge that the experience has affected their life. Phrases like “This must be really tough for you,” and “I’m glad you felt you could share this with me” help to communicate empathy.

Ways to support LGBTQIA survivors

Local Sexual Assault Service Providers:

Barriers to Reporting Sexual Violence in LGBTQIA Communities

Members of LGBTQIA communities in the U.S. face higher rates of sexual violence than the general population. This sexual violence is perpetrated both by non-LGBTQIA individuals—often coming in the form of hate crimes, which are crimes perpetrated specifically in response to someone’s identity—and also by other LGBTQIA individuals.

One of the main barriers facing LGBTQIA individuals is that, even if they want to get help, they may be reluctant to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to service providers when that disclosure may mean facing future discrimination or denial of services.

Some LGBTQIA survivors may also be reluctant to report because they fear that it will reflect badly on their community or for fear that they may be unjustly labeled as the perpetrator.

Another concern that may prevent LGBTQIA individuals from feeling comfortable seeking help is fear of having their sexual orientation or gender identity revealed without their consent—or being outed.

LGBTQIA survivors may choose not to report sexual violence because they don’t have access to resources. This is especially applicable for transgender survivors, such as cases in which transgender women can’t access services at shelters because their gender identity is not recognized and affirmed by shelter staff.

How do I report sexual assault?

You have several options for reporting sexual assault:

  • Call 911. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. Help will come to you, wherever you are.
  • Contact the local police department. Call the direct line of your local police station or visit the station in person. If you are on a college campus you may also be able to contact campus-based law enforcement.
  • Visit a medical center. If you are being treated for injuries resulting from sexual assault, tell a medical professional that you wish to report the crime. You can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam. To find an appropriate local health facility that is prepared to care for survivors, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673).

Additional Sexual Assault Service Providers:

If you need immediate support, you can reach your local RAINN affiliate at any time, 24/7, by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).

Stay Safe Campaign

If You are Sexually Assaulted

It is important to know, the victim of the crime gets to decide how and if they want to report the crime. For example, the victim of a sexual assault can decide to report the assault to the college but not the Porterville Police Department.

If the victim decides to report the crime to the college only, they will still receive free resources (medical, counseling, assistance from victim rights) even if they do not want to identify the criminal suspect.

Preventing and Responding to sexual violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating/domestic violence and stalking are priorities for Porterville College.

If you are in danger or need help now, call 911. If you've experienced sexual violence and are not in immediate danger, find services and get help on campus.

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Created By
Todd Dearmore