How to Help an LGBTQ+ Survivor

I'm an LGBTQ survivor.

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. Sexual assault affects everyone, so 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, transgender and more are subject to the same spectrum of sexual violence as the general population. Approximately 1 in 8 lesbian women and nearly half of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.

Are LGBTQ+ people more likely than heterosexuals to be perpetrators of sexual violence?
No. As part of the oppression that LGBTQ+ people have face for their sexual orientation an/or gender identification, their sexual activities have sometimes been criminalized. LGBTQ+ people are often identified as outsiders and sexual deviants, 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 more often than heterosexual people. 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?
Yes, homophobia in our culture put 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 person's sexual orientation specifically target lesbians and bisexual women for sexual assault. 

What are some common fears of LGGTQ+ 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.

Harvard Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

Resources

LBGT Student Services Office
1321 Trimpe
The Office of LBGT Student Services provies support, education and advocacy to the WMU campus community to create a more inclusive campus climate for all students, inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. Our programs provide opportunities for students to meet other LBGTQIA+ and ally student, develop leadership skills, and help make WMU a more welcoming campus for LBGTQIA+ students. The office provides a supportive and inclusive space open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All LBGTQIA+ students, employees, and their allies are invited to drop in to hangout, study, and take advantage of the extensive lending library.

Outspoken
Outspoken is an organization at Western Michigan University comprised of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and ally students. They focus on LGBTQ+ inclusion as well as being an open, safe space for anyone who would like to join! They focus on the advocacy and well-being of LGBTQ+ students through weekly meetings and special events.

OutFront Kalamazoo
340 S Rose Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
KGLRC has a partnership with the YWCA that provides counseling, referrals, and resources. They also have LGBTQ+ resources available and can refer you to doctors and counselors in the area.

LGBT Sexual Assault Victim Advocate/Counselor  (269) 345-595 Ext. 353
629 Pioneer Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Through a partnership between YWCA Kalamazoo and OutFront Kalamazoo, the LGBTQ+ Advocate/Counselor provides sexual assault services, including individual counseling, advocacy, and group counseling to LGBTQ+ focused community organizations such as HIV education and other LGBTQ+ support groups.

FIRE Place 
FIRE Place is our on-campus support and resource 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, services, offices, and registered student organizations. Caring sexual assault peer educators 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.

National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010.

FIRE! Sexual Assault Peer Education, 2017.