June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month. While Pride has come to mean different things to different people, it is generally viewed as a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and the strides that have been made toward equality. It also commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.
Pride is also a time to examine the challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community. One of these issues relates directly to our mission at Blackburn Center: gender-based violence.
LGBTQ+ individuals experience gender-based violence such as domestic violence and sexual assault at rates that are just as high, if not higher, as what heterosexual people experience. According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:
• 44% of lesbian women, 61% of bisexual women, and 35% of heterosexual women experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
• 26% of gay men, 37% of bisexual men and 29% of heterosexual men experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking at some point in their life.
• Approximately 1 in 5 bisexual women (22%) and nearly 1 in 10 heterosexual women have been raped by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
For transgender individuals, the rates of gender-based violence are even higher. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 54% of respondents has experienced some form of domestic violence, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, or coercive control. 47% of respondents had been sexually assaulted within the past year. Fatal violence against transgender women — and in particular, trans women of color — is far too common. Halfway through 2022, at least 14 trans women have been murdered; most victims were Black or Latinx.
Understanding the scope of the problem is the first step in addressing it. The next step involves recognizing why it can be difficult for many people to seek help — and what we can do to make it easier.
Barriers to Seeking Help
Although LGBTQ+ people often face higher levels of gender-based violence than heterosexual, cisgender people in the United States, they often experience more difficulty accessing services. One of the main barriers that LGBTQ+ individuals face is that — even if they want to get help — they may be reluctant to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity out of fear of discrimination or denial of services. This is particularly true for transgender men and women, who may be not be able to access shelter services if their gender identity is not recognized and affirmed by staff.
LGBTQ+ individuals may also worry that they could be “outed” if they choose to seek services. This can be particularly troublesome for victims and survivors who have already experienced a loss of control when they were victimized. Being outed can further this trauma. In some situations, it may also be dangerous to be outed — which is a risk that many victims and survivors simply are not willing to take.
For some LGBTQ+ victims and survivors, there is also concern about how seeking help could affect the community as a whole. If the person who abused them is also LGBTQ+, then they may worry that reporting will reflect badly on the community.
How We Can Help
• 24 hour hotline: 1-888-832-2272 (TDD available)
• Emergency shelter
• Counseling and therapy
• Support groups
• Medical advocacy/accompaniment
• Legal system support
• Civil legal services through Blackburn Center Legal
All of our services are available to ALL victims and survivors. We offer safe, inclusive services for LGBTQ+ individuals with a goal of helping clients rebuild a sense of control and empowerment. We are committed to removing many of the barriers that LGBTQ+ people face when seeking help , while upholding the dignity of each victim and survivor. In addition, our services are or can be accessible for victims and survivors with disabilities.
During Pride Month and throughout the year, we are here for LGBTQ+ victims and survivors. If you have experienced sexual violence, domestic abuse, stalking, or any other form of violence or abuse, do not hesitate to call. Our hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are free of charge and can be anonymous: 1-888-832-2272.