Abuse and sexual assault can occur between anyone, including people within the LGBTQ+ community. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, or have been sexually assaulted, you are not alone. While making sense of what happened or when you’re thinking of reaching out for support, here are some common experiences:
- Fear of not being believed or taken seriously. You may worry that if you report to someone, you will encounter harmful stereotypes. For example, it is a misconception that only the physically bigger partner can be abusive. Your partner or assaulter may exploit this fear, trying to convince you that no one will take you seriously.
- Fear of retaliation, harassment, rejection or bullying. You may also fear that seeking help will make you a target of public ridicule, retaliation, or harassment, not only because you have experienced violence, but also because you identify within the LGBTQ+ community.
- Fear of unwanted outing or disclosure. If you are not yet out to everyone, your partner or assaulter may threaten to tell people about your sexual orientation, sexual practices, sex assigned at birth, or gender identity.
- Legal issues. LGBTQ+ survivors of violence may experience apprehension, mistrust or even fear of interacting with law enforcement or the court system. You may be ready to leave an abusive relationship and want help, but might not want your abusive partner to be arrested or incarcerated, and potentially mistreated based on their sexual orientation or gender expression. (from NWnetwork.org)
You may be unaware that you have legal options for protection, including obtaining a restraining or protective order – Washington does not restrict restraining orders, regardless of the gender of you or your partner.
- Loss of community. Depending on the support you receive from your family or other communities, you may worry that disclosing your relationship — let alone the abuse you’re experiencing — may make the situation worse. Also, in a small LGBTQ+ community, it may feel like there’s nowhere to turn.
Regardless of these obstacles, you deserve to be safe and healthy. In addition to WWU’s CASAS and DVSAS (in the Bellingham community), there are other local and national resources available to you.
The NW Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse works to end violence and abuse by building loving and equitable relationships in our community and across the country.
Ingersoll Gender Center is an organization based in Seattle that supports transgender people and gender variant people towards growth and well-being.
The Network /La Red is a bilingual, grassroots, survivor-led organization working to end domestic violence in LGBQ/T, SM, and polyamorous communities.
FORGE is a federally-funded, national transgender anti-violence organization that offers free resources and trainings.
(Content adapted from LoveIsRespect.org)