June, as some may know is LGBTQ+ or Pride Month. This celebration is done in commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising in June of 1969. The purpose of Pride month is to uplift, celebrate, validate, and support the rights and voice of LGBTQ+ community members. Throughout the month, parades, performances, theater, memorials etc. are put on all over the country. Some are done in celebration and others are done in memory of those who have lost their lives because of illnesses such as HIV/Aids and discrimination against personal identity selection.

However, what many do not know is that 21% of individuals identifying as transgender, genderqueer, or non-conforming college students have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of females who are not on the spectrum and 4% of males who are not on the spectrum.

Some further heart wrenching statistics include:

– 44% of lesbian women and 61% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 35% of heterosexual women

– 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, in comparison to 29% of heterosexual men.

– 20% of LGBTQ+ domestic violence victims have experienced some form of physical violence

– 16% of LGBTQ+ domestic violence victims have experienced threats and intimidation

– 15% of LGBTQ+ domestic violence victims have been verbally harassed

– 11% of intimate violence cases among LGBTQ+ domestic violence victims reported involving a weapon

– 4% of LGBTQ+ domestic violence survivors have experienced sexual violence

Amongst other forms of intimate partner violence something unique to the LGBTQ+ community is using “outing” as a threat or manipulative technique to trap someone in a relationship. Partners may stay with an abuser out of fear of family and friends finding out about their sexual orientation. Many individuals on the LGBTQ+ spectrum are also less likely to seek help for an abusive relationship or assault out of fear of shame and or hate from heterosexual therapists and crisis workers.

Many times when sexual assault and domestic violence are brought into the light to spread awareness it is spoken about in a way that describes the perpetrator as a heterosexual male and the victim as a heterosexual female. We need to understand that sexual and domestic violence happens to all individuals, of all races, sexualities, genders, preferences, ages, socioeconomic class etc. This is not to say sexual assault does not happen to females who identify as heterosexual it is simple the awareness that all people are affected by this issue, whether they are a survivor, know a survivor, or have watched violence take place.

What to do now? Speak up if you know someone is engaging in sexual or domestic violence, be the friend who listens and cares, find a friend who listens and care, seek help, and know that you are loved and worthy of healing and recovery. Most of all… It is not your fault and it never will be.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing sexual or domestic violence call the crisis hotline (205) 669-7233 (SAFE)