Half of LGBT+ sexual violence survivors believe they were assaulted because of their identity, a survey has found.
In the largest report of its kind, British anti-abuse charity Galop asked nearly 1,000 LGBT+ people about their experiences of sexual violence.
Those surveyed described instances of rape, penetrative sexual assault, ‘revenge porn’ and groping. Such experiences haunted them for months, with 85 per cent saying the trauma impacted their mental health and 77 per cent their relationships.
In a damning indictment against the government’s sluggish approach to banning conversion therapy, nearly a quarter of survey-takers believe their attackers were trying to “convert” them.
Galop CEO Leni Morris told PinkNews that some LGBT+ people had experienced so-called “corrective” rape. Others said their assailants “fetishised” their sexuality or gender identity – 53 per cent believed they were attacked because of their identity.
Galop also found that “corrective” sexual assault was more common among trans and non-binary people, who are being excluded from the government’s conversion therapy ban altogether.
“I feel like being raped robbed me of years,” said one participant, “it meant I didn’t transition until now and I cannot put into words how angry that makes me.”
Morris said: “These findings provide further evidence for the need for a full and complete ban on so-called conversion therapy in all its forms.
“This is abuse, and LGBT+ people in this country are being put through it simply because of who they are. We need this ban. We need it for the whole community.”
One in five respondents said they had never told anyone about their ordeal, according to the report released Wednesday afternoon (20 April).
Of the 82 per cent who did open up about the violence they experienced, just one third had done so within six months of the incident taking place.
Two-thirds of respondents reported an increase in suicidal thoughts after the violence, while six in 10 engaged in self-harm.
The NHS offers support for people who have experienced sexual violence through specialised sexual assault referral centres, or SARCs. But LGBT+ respondents said they were hesitant to seek out support, which includes being connected to police offers to report the incident. Many were wary of being “outed” or fearful of the discrimination and disbelief they would be met with for being LGBT+.
“This is an important reflection of the way LGBT+ people in this country are still othered, and how anti-LGBT+ prejudice is still an active part of the life experience of many LGBT+ people in the UK,” said Morris.
“Services set up to support sexual violence survivors often don’t feel inclusive of our community, and there is a real lack of services, like ours, which are run by and for LGBT+ people to provide that safe space in the wake of sexual violence.”
Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.