Individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, genderqueer, questioning or otherwise gender nonconforming experience sexual violence at alarmingly high rates. These individuals may experience the following after experiencing a sexual assault:
Inability to Identify Sexual Abuse, Feeling Invisible:
The most public information about sexual assault and rape focuses on straight, non-trans male perpetrators and straight non-trans female survivors. As a result, LGBTQ survivors may struggle to recognize the incident as rape and this may lead to feelings of confusion or invisibility.
Humiliation and Self-Blame:
Most survivors of sexual violence experience feelings of shame, guilt, self-blame and vulnerability, regardless of their sexual identity. LGBTQ-identified survivors may feel like they didn’t defend themselves enough or should have done something differently, especially an individual who identifies with features of masculinity (some trans, bisexual, gay and straight men) who may feel that their gender was challenged or threatened by the assault.
Internalized and Externalized Homophobia, Biphobia or Transphobia:
LGBTQ survivors may internalize some myths or stereotypes as a result of the sexual assault, like the belief that “I am damaged” or “I deserved it”. As a result, LGBTQ survivors may not disclose the assault to family or friends or report the assault to the police or therapists for fear of negative reactions (being blamed or not believed).
Loss of Trust in Others:
Survivors of sexual violence may feel like their world changed, especially if their perpetrator was also an LGBTQ-identified individual. In this case, the community that gave them a safe haven and serenity, especially from homo/bi/transphobia, can also be violent and unsafe.
LGBTQ survivors may fear judgment from friends, family, community and/or professionals as a result of their experiences of homo/bi/transphobia. They may have already encountered myths or stereotypes about sexual violence among LGBTQ-identified individuals from mental health or legal professionals.