Information for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning individuals
We realize that far too many people, institutions and media lump the issues experienced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, questioning and transgender individuals into one category, and by doing so create problems of exclusion and generalization. However, while we continue to seek better approaches and perspectives, we believe it is pertinent to provide information and resources regarding the LGBTQ community and its relationship with sexual assault.
Sexual assault is devastating to all victims, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, and you may feel reactions that are shared by both male and female survivors. Whatever the circumstances of your assault, you may have fears and concerns specifically related to you being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning in addition to those that any survivor of sexual assault may have. These concerns may not only be about what occurred during the assault, but how you will be treated by the health care and criminal justice systems, your friends, family, and if you are in a relationship, your partner.
Some issues you may be dealing with include:
- Fear of disclosure to friends, family or employees.
- Fear that your sexual orientation or gender identification will be seen as your central "issue" to health care providers, instead of the assault.
- Concerns that your case will not be taken seriously because of your sexual orientation.
- Your dating or intimate partner was the one who committed the assault.
- Questioning your sexual orientation after the assault.
- Feelings of vulnerability, guilt or self-blame.
It may be helpful for you to know that you will not be required to disclose your sexual orientation to anyone, unless you choose to do so—even if you visit the emergency room. Regardless of how you feel about your sexuality—still questioning, closeted, or totally "out"—you are entitled to the same sensitive treatment heterosexual survivors should receive.
If you suspect or know that the assailant knew you were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, you may want to report the assailant to a hate crimes reporting hotline. Should you choose to report the assault to the Department of Public Safety, you may choose to share your orientation, or not.
NOTE: Western Michigan University does not, at the moment, have a centralized hate crimes reporting hotline, but a report can be filed with the LBGT Student Services Office. The coordinator is available to WMU students and their advocates who desire the information and resources to formally report such incidents to the proper authorities. Those who do not wish to make a formal report may, nevertheless, inform LBGT Student Services of the incident so that they can more accurately track the frequency of this form of campus violence in order to create programs and policies to combat these incidences.
Above all, it is important to remember that the assault is not your fault. This may be hard to acknowledge if you are still coming to terms with your sexuality or gender identification, or the assailant indicated that he/she knew of your orientation. Remember, you have the right to services that are non-judgmental and to surround yourself with those who can emotionally support you best through the healing process.
WMU’s Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Student Services Office can provide resources, information, and community support to LBGT survivors of sexual assault. While you may choose to report harassing or stalking behavior, you may also choose to seek resources and referrals if you experience a sexual assault.
Outspoken is an organization comprised of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ally students at Western Michigan University. They focus on the advocacy and well being of GLBTA students through weekly meetings and special events.
FIRE Place, our on-campus support and resource service center. The center is a safe place for students that supports survivors and friends of survivors of sexual assault and other bias incidents. From here you can easily reach a network of campus programs, offices, and registered student organizations. Caring staff will assist you and provide direct connections to the most beneficial options as well as help students navigate the resources. The center maintains a collection of resources and educational publications on the topics of sexual assault, bias incidents, and other forms of violence. You may also come to contribute to ongoing healing art and awareness projects.
Information on LGBT Survivors adapted from the College of William & Mary Sexual Assault Resources and Education website, copyright 2007.