Sexual violence is a broad term that includes any nonconsensual sexual contact or penetration, intentional touching, trafficking, and non-contact acts of a sexual nature such as voyeurism and verbal or behavioral sexual harassment by one person toward another. It may also include nonconsensual sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, inappropriate sexual comments, exhibitionism, undesired exposure to pornography, sexually explicit stalking, incessant telephoning, taking nude photographs of a sexual nature of another person without their consent, online solicitation of minors, unwelcome online solicitation of adults, or any hostile environment where sexual joking is present without consent. These activities are considered sexual violence whether they are attempted or completed acts.
GLBTQ communities, relationships, and partnerships are impacted by sexual violence. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) gay, lesbian, and bisexual people experience sexual violence at rates equal to or greater than the general population. In addition, according to FORGE, which works to improve the lives of transgender and SOFFA individuals, 50% of people who identify as transgender experience sexual violence. Below are a few examples of the ways in which sexual violence uniquely impact GLBTQ communities,
• Survivors who are not “out” may experience additional barriers in
reaching out to service providers or the police
• GLBTQ communities might not recognize that sexual violence occurs in
GLBTQ communities or recognize it as a significant community issue
• Guilt and self-blame may cause the survivor to question their
gender identity and/or sexuality
• Fear that there is nowhere to turn for help due to homophobia, biphobia,
and transphobia from police, courts, and services providers.
Many survivors of sexual assault, regardless of gender identity/expression or sexual orientation, may have difficulty self-identifying their experience as sexual violence. This can be compounded when the survivor or perpetrator does not fall into the stereotypical gender identities associated with sexual violence. All people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, may experience or perpetrate sexual violence in their lifetime.