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Sexual Violence in LGBTQ Communities

Abstract

Multiple studies indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals are at an increased risk of sexual violence compared to their heterosexual, cisgender counterparts. These disparities, which are evident across a variety of definitions of rape and sexual assault, have prompted researchers to further explore the dynamics, outcomes, and societal responses regarding sexual violence within LGBTQ communities. The existing literature is limited (particularly with regard to transgender victims) but growing rapidly. This chapter provides an overview of existing literature on sexual violence in LGBTQ communities, including how legal definitions of sexual assault and rape have changed over time to become more inclusive, methodological challenges in studying LGBTQ sexual violence, risk factors of victimization, tactics and prevalence, negative mental and physical health outcomes associated with sexual violence, barriers to help-seeking, and disclosure experience. Where the literature permits, distinctions are drawn between the victimization experiences of sexual minorities (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual individuals) and gender minorities (e.g., transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer individuals). Special attention is given to LGBTQ victims of sexual violence committed in the context of a hate crime, among incarcerated populations, in childhood, and within intimate relationships. Recommendations are provided for improving future research, public policy, and service provision that address sexual violence in LGBTQ lives.

Keywords

  • LGBTQ
  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bisexual
  • Transgender
  • Queer
  • Sexual violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Rape

It is really daunting to talk about sexual abuse that happened when you were presenting as your birth gender after you have transitioned. I was not ready to talk about it for a long time after it had happened. However, when I was ready to disclose, I was presenting as a man and then I encountered two problems; one) I didn’t want to remember when I was a girl and two) men are perceived as not having experienced sexual abuse so I wasn’t sure how I would be received.

Rymer and Cartei (2015), p. 158

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Messinger, A.M., Koon-Magnin, S. (2019). Sexual Violence in LGBTQ Communities. In: O'Donohue, W., Schewe, P. (eds) Handbook of Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault Prevention. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-23645-8_39

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