How to Help an LGBTQ Survivor

If you are an LGBTQ survivor seeking information and resources, click here.

I know an LGBTQ survivor

It is important to remember that sexual assault can happen to all people, no matter their age, gender, class, national origin, or sexual orientation. Sexual assault happens regardless of identity characteristics. Because sexual assault affects everyone, it must be everyone’s issue.

LGBTQ individuals and sexual violence - breaking the myths:

Does sexual violence happen to LGBTQ people?
Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of their race, class, age, appearance, or sexual orientation. Lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people are subject to the same spectrum of sexual violence as the general population. In general, situations of sexual assault that involve LGBTQ people are very similar to those that heterosexuals experience. According to research, LGBTQ people are at approximately the same risk as heterosexuals of being sexually assaulted by someone they know.

  • 52 percent of participants in a study of sexual coercion in gay/lesbian relationships reported at least one incident of sexual assault/coercion.
  • In this study, gay men reported 1.6 incidents per person on average, in comparison to the 1.2 incidents per person reported by lesbians.

Are LGBTQ people more likely than heterosexuals to be perpetrators of sexual violence?
No. As part of the oppression that LGBTQ people have faced for their sexual orientation and/or gender identification, their sexual activities have sometimes been criminalized. LGBTQ people are often identified as outsiders, and sexual deviates, and are scapegoated as perpetrators of sexual violence. However, in the vast majority of cases, perpetrators are heterosexual men. Another common myth about LGBTQ people is that they molest children. This is also untrue; in fact several studies of sexual abuse perpetrators concluded that heterosexual adults are more likely to be a threat to children than LGBTQ adults are. The research points to there being no significant relationship between an LGBTQ lifestyle and child molestation.

Are LGBTQ people more likely than heterosexuals to be sexually assaulted by a stranger?
Homophobia in our culture puts LGBTQ people at greater risk for sexual assault by strangers. It is common for perpetrators to use sexual violence as a way to punish and humiliate someone for being LGBTQ. A common example of this is when individuals who think they can “change” a woman’s sexual orientation specifically target lesbians and bisexual women for sexual assault.

What are some common fears of LGBTQ survivors?
Fear of being forced to “come out” if they approach their family, the courts, or the police to report their sexual assault.

  • Feel that they are betraying their LGBTQ community, which is already under attack, by “accusing” another LGBTQ person of sexual assault.
  • Feel that they are exposing their assailant to a homophobic criminal justice system if they pursue a legal solution.
  • Feel that they have nowhere to turn for help and fear hostile responses from the police, courts, service providers, and therapists, because of homophobia and anti-LGBTQ bias.

Information regarding LGBTQ Sexual Assault Myths adapted from the Harvard Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

Resources

LBGT Student Services Office
Western Michigan University's Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay & 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
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.

Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center

Lesbian Sexual Assault Rape Crisis Information

FIRE Place
FIRE Place is 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.