A new report released by anti-abuse charity Galop into LGBTQ+ experiences of sexual violence has uncovered that 53% of attacks happened due to the person’s LGBTQ+ identity.
In a survey of almost 1,000 LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual assault by Galop, respondents reported instances of rape, penetrative sexual assault, ‘revenge porn’ and groping, which was more often than not perpetrated due to the victim’s identity.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of survey respondents were subjected to sexual violence which they believe was intended to convert them to heterosexuality, their assigned gender at birth, or to punish them for their gender or sexual identity. This research provides further evidence for the need for a comprehensive ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in the UK.
These incidents can have a profound impact on victims, with levels of suicidal ideation (67%) and self-harm (64%) increasing for a significant majority following the incident. Furthermore, sexual violence affected people in long-lasting ways: 85% experienced negative impacts on their mental health and 77% experienced negative impacts on their intimate relationships. One participant said, “I feel like being raped robbed me of years, it meant I didn’t transition until now and I cannot put into words how angry that makes me.”
The research also found almost 1 in 5 (18%) of victims had never told anyone about the sexual violence they faced. One explained: “I didn’t really feel like I could talk to my family because I wasn’t ready to come out to them. I was worried they’d blame me for what had happened and would be ashamed of me.”
Galop’s LGBTQ+ sexual violence service is the only service of its kind in the UK, and has helped thousands of victims and survivors to date. The charity is calling on policy makers and other statutory agencies to increase internal training on LGBTQ+ experiences of sexual assault, set aside dedicated, long-term funding for specialist services and provide better sex education on LGBTQ+ identities and consent for young people.
Amy Roch, Deputy CEO of Galop, said: “This research has uncovered significant volumes of sexual violence perpetrated against our community because of who we are, which reflects what victims and survivors tell us in our services.
“Every day we’re working with victims who are facing sexual assault from within their own communities, often perpetrated by family members or third parties, which intends to convert them to being heterosexual or cisgender. This type of abuse is more prevalent for our trans and non-binary siblings, who the government has recently said will no longer be covered by the upcoming conversion therapy ban.
“In our services, we see the often lifelong effects of sexual assault on survivors, including suicidal thoughts, self-harm, difficulty maintaining relationships with friends and family, and impacts on their sense of self.
“Despite needing help, many LGBTQ+ victims are reluctant to approach mainstream support services due to concerns about anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, negative experiences with statutory services in the past, or the risk of being ‘outed’ in the process.
“These findings highlight a pressing need for preventative measures such as proper education about LGBTQ+ identities and consent for the young people in our society, as well as specialist LGBTQ+ support which is genuinely accessible for these survivors so they feel confident in coming forwards. We need to ensure that all sexual violence victims receive a fair and equal response, whoever they are.”
To read Galop’s report on LGBTQ+ experiences of sexual violence, as well as other reports on conversion practices, domestic abuse and hate crime, CLICK HERE