Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Survivors
Dating Violence - Abusive Relationships - Rape & Sexual Assault
This section deals with the specific concerns members of the LGBTQ community may have regarding sexual assault and dating violence. The PAWS program of the Counseling Center provides services to all students, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
- Dating Violence in LGBTQ Communities
- Warning Sign of Abusive/Violent Relationships
- Are there differences in the type of dating violence experienced in LGBTQ relationships?
- What to do if you are being abused
- What can someone do if they are abusive?
- How to help a friend
- Additional Resources for LGBTQ Dating Violence (website, articles, books)
- Rape and Sexual Assault in LGBTQ Communities
- Common Myths about LGBTQ sexual assault and rape
- What to do if you have been sexually assaulted or raped
- Additional Resources for LGBTQ Sexual Assault Survivors (website, articles, books)
Dating Violence in LGBTQ Communities
Research estimates that 25% to 33% of LGBT relationships are abusive (the same percentage as in straight relationships). Abusive LGBT relationships have the same dynamics of power and control as straight relationships, but frequently go undetected and unreported. Because of this, abuse in LGBT relationships can seem like a hidden problem. Attitudes like "women don't hurt each other" or "a fight between two men is a fair fight" can keep people from recognizing abuse. Some abusers threaten to "out" the victim to parents, friends or employers. A victim may be afraid to get help, worried that the police and counseling services will be homophobic and insensitive. This page provides LGBT resources and links for survivors and information on how to help a friend.
The PAWS program of the Counseling Center provides advocacy services to all survivors, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Click here for more information on recognizing abusive behaviors in a relationship.
Dating violence is always the responsibility of the abuser, regardless of the gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity of the abuser or the type of relationship. But abusers may use a person’s identity as a way to abuse or control a person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. For example, an abuser may use threats of outing a partner’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status to further control the person they are hurting.
It's important to know that violence/abuse is not likely to stop on its own - episodes of violence usually become more frequent and more severe. The PAWS program can assist you:
Prevention, Advocacy, and Wellness Services (PAWS) of the Counseling Center and works to prevent sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking and provide advocacy services to students who are survivors of interpersonal violence. PAWS provides survivors (and individuals assisting survivors) with emotional support, someone to talk to, and referrals for medical and legal options; in a setting that is non-judgmental. The PAWS Program does not tell survivors what to do; instead we offer options that are available to you. PAWS is free and confidential. We serve all survivors of interpersonal violence, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We highly encourage survivors to contact the PAWS program; coping with an abusive or violent relationship can be a very difficult and confusing process.
Contact PAWS: Call us the Counseling Center at 716-673-3424, stop by our office in LoGrasso Hall, or email the PAWS Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Stop using abuse of any form (physical, sexual, verbal or emotional), including threats and intimidation.
- Accept responsibility for your behavior. Remember that the use of violence is a choice and you can choose to change that behavior.
- Do not make excuses for your violence or blame your partner for your abusive behavior.
- Seek professional help from a qualified counselor who is knowledgeable about partner abuse and has experience working with the LGBTQ community.
- Alcohol, drug use or mental health problems may make abusive situations worse but they are not excuses for abusive behavior.
Many people in abusive relationships will turn to a trusted friend first. Here are some ways you can offer support:
- Your friend's first step to safety could be you letting them know that they are not alone and that they are not crazy. Let your friend know that many people experience abuse and that there are resources where they can get help.
- Be supportive and respectful. Make clear statements about your friend's value and rights as a person, such as "No one deserves to be abused."
- Don't criticize the abuser. A victim often has conflicting feelings about the abusive partner. If you're critical the victim may become defensive or shut down. Instead, talk about negative behaviors by saying something like, "I'm really concerned about how your partner treats you. Nobody has the right to put someone else down."
- Encourage your friend to make a safety plan if they have decided to leave the relationship. Your part in a safety plan can include walking home together, checking in at certain times of the day, and having a code word your friend can use if they need immediate help.
- Do not confront the abuser. This can result in an escalation of violence against the victim.
- Do not slip a referral card or any other information about abuse into someone's bag or under a door. If the abuser finds this, it can also escalate the violence against the victim.
- Do not send a voicemail message or an email message about the abuse to your friend. You do not know if the abuser is monitoring the phone or the computer.
- Be careful for yourself. Let your friend know what you are comfortable doing and what your boundaries are. You can also get support for yourself from the resources on and off-campus that are listed below.
- The Network/La Red: This program offers free services in English and Spanish for lesbians, bisexual women and transgender people who are victims of battering. These services include a hotline, emergency shelter and advocacy programs.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) TTY: 1-800-787-3224. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides anonymous crisis intervention, information about domestic violence and referrals to local services. The hotline advocates can answer calls in English and Spanish and have access to translators in 139 languages.
- Human Rights Campaign: Teen Dating Violence Among LGBTQ Youth
- One Love:Transgender relationship abuse
- National Center for Transgender Equality: Survivors of Violence
- VAWNet: Organizations working around the issue of domestic violence in LGBTQ communities
Sexual assault and rape can happen to anyone, regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. This section contains information specifically for LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault and rape. Assault may have been same-sex or perpetrated as a hate crime, directed against the survivor’s sexual orientation or gender identity as perceived by the perpetrator.
Sexual assault is any unwanted or forced sexual contact. It can be committed by the use of threats or force or when someone takes advantage of circumstances that render a person incapable of giving consent, such as intoxication. Sexual assault can include unwanted touching, fondling, or groping of the body including the vagina, penis, scrotum or buttocks. Rape is any kind of sexual assault that involves forced vaginal, oral, or anal sex, including any amount of penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth with a body part or any other object.
Myth: A woman can’t rape another woman.
Reality: While the majority of perpetrators of sexual assault are male, the idea that woman-on-woman sexual assault does not occur is only a product of gender role stereotypes that encourage the idea that women are never violent. This stereotype can make it less likely that women who were sexually assaulted by another woman will be believed by those around her. It can also make a survivor who has believed that women are nonviolent feel disillusioned that she has experienced violence from a woman.
Myth: Gay men are sexually promiscuous and are always ready for sex.
Reality: Men who identify as gay, like all people, have the right to say no to sex at any time and have that respected. Because of the stereotypes that many people have about gay men’s sexual availability, however, it may be more difficult for a gay man to convince others that he was assaulted.
Myth: Bisexuals are kinky anyway, and sexual assault for them is just rough sex that got out of hand.
Reality: Bisexuality reflects a sexual orientation, not sexual practices. Bisexuals, like heterosexuals, practice a wide range of sexual behaviors, and, for bisexuals, like for heterosexuals, rough sex and a sexual assault are two very different things. Because of stereotypes about bisexuals, they, too, may have difficulty being believed about a sexual assault.
Myth: When a woman claims domestic abuse by another women, it is just a catfight. Similarly, when a man claims domestic abuse by another man, it is just two men fighting.
Reality: The idea that women entice men to rape them or that they really want it is also not true. No person deserves to be raped, and no person asks to be raped or wants it. This myth again shows the extent to which sexual assault is sexualized in our society. Women may experience a sexual assault, no matter what they are wearing, and what the victim was wearing in no way makes her⁄him responsible for the assault.
As with all cases of sexual assault, these myths can only be dispelled when they are replaced by truth. This requires that members of the LGBT community and heterosexual allies speak out and acknowledge sexual assault and domestic violence within the LGBT community, in order to both prevent future assaults and to provide competent and compassionate care to survivors.
- RAINN: Rape Abuse and Incest National Network – LGBTQ Survivors of Sexual Violence
- FORGE: national transgender anti-violence organization - Trans Sexual Violence Survivors: A Self-Help Guide to Healing and Understanding - Sexual Violence Support/Healing listserv empowers and supports LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer, Intersex, Ally) primary and secondary survivors of sexual violence. Currently, participation is comprised primarily of transgender / gender non-conforming individuals and loved ones.
- The Trevor Project: Help and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. Hotline: 866.488.7386
- LGBT National Hotline: Call center that refers to over 15,000 resources across the country that support LGBTQ individuals. Hotline: 888.THE.GLNH (843.4564) pen pals, weekly chatrooms for youth.