Support for Lesbian and Bisexual Women
IT'S NOT ABOUT SEX!
Sex requires your consent. Rape and sexual assault are violent crimes and are motivated by anger, hatred, and aggression. Being forced to have unprotected sex or to engage in more sexual activity than you had wanted also constitutes rape or sexual assault. Both men and women can commit rape and sexual assault against women.
Same-sex sexual assault is not motivated by sexual attraction. It is predominantly an act of violence. Commonly, victims are chosen for their perceived vulnerability to attack rather than how sexually appealing the perpetrator found them. If someone is a victim of same-sex sexual assault it does not necessarily mean the perpetrator is part of the LGBTQ community or that the victim is part of the LGBTQ community.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Rape and sexual assault can happen to any woman, no matter what kind of person she is, what she looks like, or what her sexual orientation is. Sexual assaults are violent crimes used to exert power, to humiliate, and to control.
YOU HAVE SURVIVED!
Rape and sexual assault can be life-threatening situations. Whether or not a weapon was used, you probably were very scared. You may have cooperated in order to get out alive. This does not mean you consented. Sometimes you have to cooperate to save your life. Rape and sexual assault are never your fault!
IF THE ATTACKER IS A MAN
Some men think they can "change" a lesbian into a straight woman. There are also men who hate women. They use rape and sexual assault as a way to exert power and control, to cause women pain and humiliation. Rape and sexual assault can be hate crimes.
For some lesbians or women who are intimate with other women, their sexual orientation is linked to their political and social beliefs. This includes views of patriarchy and the role of male privilege. If the attacker is male, his attack will be experienced on several levels: a personal assault on your body, your identity, your political beliefs, and the choices you have made in how to live your life. Because this issue is so complex and so personally targeted, it is important that you speak with someone who understands this multi-layered assault on who you are.
Homophobia puts LGBTQ people at a greater risk for violence. Sexual violence is commonly used by perpetrators as a way to punish and humiliate someone for being LGBTQ. Sexual assault is often one of the forms of violence that occur during an incident of anti-LGBTQ hate violence.
According to a study released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, in terms of hate motivated violence, 82% of the perpetrators are male. Females have less of a risk of victimizations than males. The study reports that 28% of the victims were female and that 58% of the victims were male. In the same study, 79% of victims identified as lesbian/gay and 11% identified as heterosexual, while 3% of victims identified as bisexual. (Please see the study Anti-lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Violence in 2004, a report of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs for more information. www.cuav.org).
IF THE ATTACKER IS A WOMAN
Women can commit acts of sexual violence. Rape and sexual assault can happen with someone you just met or with an intimate partner. It is not talked about much, but it happens. It can be very hard to seek help when another woman is the attacker, especially when you have been involved with that woman in the past, or are currently in an intimate relationship. Feeling confused, isolated, or betrayed is common for survivors when the attacker is another woman. In addition, you may feel surprised and shocked that a woman could do these things. You may second guess your feelings or feel like you would be "turning on one of your own." You may feel as though you will lose the support of other women in the lesbian community.
Rape and sexual assault are violent crimes. Neither your sexual orientation nor the gender of your attacker changes that.
SOME COMMON REACTIONS:
Rape and sexual assault are traumatic experiences. Following an attack, you may have physical pain, injuries, and strong emotional reactions. Below are some of the reactions you may experience.
Partners, family, and close friends who are aware of what happened to you may also experience some of these changes.
Barriers to seeking services:
There are many reasons a survivor of sexual assault or abuse may not seek services or leave an abusive situation. Sexual assault is often underreported and may be more so within the LGBT community. Some barriers to service include:
What is homophobia?
What is heterosexism?
How do I help as a friend or as a partner?
The SARP Center services:
The Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Center supports all survivors of sexual assault with an effort to be sensitive to issues of gender and sexual orientation.
Support and Resources for LGBTQ Community:
San Luis Obispo County Resources:
© 2006-2009 Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Center of San Luis Obispo County and Licensors. All Rights Reserved.