LGBT Victims of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault and relationship violence can be issues in any relationship, and can impact any individual regardless of gender or sexual identity.

Rape/sexual assault is also a tool of control and domination by women over other women, and men over other men. LGBT victims of sexual assault confront the same issues as any survivor, but must also deal with unique issues and special needs.

Same-Sex assault:

  • Includes forced vaginal or anal penetration, forced oral sex, or other forced sexual activity.
  • As with opposite sex assaults, the assault may occur within the context of an otherwise consensual relationship.
  • It may include a penis, fist, finger, dildo, or other object.
  • Victims are even less likely than opposite-sex survivors to report the assault.
  • There is often a tendency to blame their victimization on their sexual orientation.
  • Reporting is deterred by concerns about being “outed”, perceptions of police and care-givers as homophobic, being seen as a “traitor” to the gay community, and lack of “queer-friendly” services.
  • Victims experience the same emotional reactions, and are in need of the same support and intervention services, as opposite sex assault survivors.

Woman to Woman Assault:

  • Survivors often experience a sense of betrayal and disbelief that a woman could assault another woman
  • Woman-to-woman assaults are often trivialized or viewed as harmless “cat fights” with no real victim and no injury. This is an inaccurate misperception.
  • Woman-to-woman assaults are rarely perpetrated by strangers, or by heterosexual women.
  • Although there is typically no concern for pregnancy, there is the possibility of internal injuries and sexually transmitted infections.

Male to Male Assault:

  • The most common male-to-male assault is the rape of a man who is perceived to be gay by a heterosexual man.
  • An assault of a heterosexual man leads him to question his sexual orientation.
  • Male-to-male assaults also occur between gay men.
  • Male victims often react with more overt anger than women do.
  • Male victims may be afraid to seek services as they perceive sexual assault services to be “for women only”.

Barriers to services:

  • Reporting process which “outs” the survivor.
  • Stereotypes that violence in a LGBT relationship is “mutual”; a similar assumption is not made in heterosexual relationships.
  • Feel that they are betraying their LGBT community, which is already under attack, by ‘accusing’ another LGBT person of sexual assault.
  • LGBT community may not be supportive of victims as they may want to maintain the myth that there are no problems of relationship violence within LGBT relationships.
  • 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-LGBT bias.