First GLBTQ-Specific Sexual Assault Program Opens in Massachusetts

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BOSTON, Mass. – On October 1, 2012, the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project (GMDVP) in collaboration with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) opened the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ) sexual assault program. The program, funded by the U.S. Office of Violence Against Women through a 3-year contract, is the first GLBTQ-specific sexual assault program in Massachusetts.

There is strong evidence that sexual assault prevalence rates for GLBTQ individuals are significantly higher than that of heterosexuals. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey documents that gay, lesbian and bisexual adults experience sexual assault at a prevalence rate more than double that of heterosexuals. While 13% of straight/heterosexual adults reported unwanted sexual contact at some time in their lives, the prevalence rate increased to 26% for gay/lesbian adults and 37% for bisexual adults. While there is less data on the prevalence of sexual assault for transgender individuals, the emerging data available indicates even higher rates. A study of 103 transgender women in Massachusetts indicated that 60% had been forced to have sex against their will.

GLBTQ youth also face high rates of sexual assault. In a study, 42% of gay, lesbian and bisexual university students reported forced sex against their will. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Sexual Violence Prevention Plan indicates that gay, lesbian and bisexual students reported sexual violence victimization roughly four times more often than straight students (34% compared to 9%).

While there is a significant GLBTQ sexual assault victim population, there is a lack of GLBTQ culturally-specific sexual assault services and, previous to this program, there was no GLBTQ culturally-specific case manager in the state. The Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health’s Sexual Violence Prevention Plan states that “survivors of same sex violence do not utilize agency support because of the perception that existing services are designed for female victims of male perpetrators” and further notes that the GLBTQ population “faces additional barriers to receiving necessary services.”

Curt Rogers, Director of GMDVP, states “Placing a GLBTQ sexual assault case manager at GMDVP will decrease cultural barriers to accessing services for GLBTQ survivors. GMDVP will provide crisis intervention, accompaniment to police, courts and hospitals as well as supported referrals to specialized services offered at rape crisis centers throughout the commonwealth. We believe these services will open a pathway for GLBTQ survivors whether their assault happened recently or many years ago.”

GMDVP’s Sexual Assault Case Manager provides support throughout the state. The program is housed at the Family Justice Center in Boston and can be reached directly for services at 617-779-2127 or supportservices@gmdvp.org.

The Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project provides crisis intervention for victims and survivors of intimate partner abuse and sexual assault. GMDVP works with anyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. GMDVP’s offerings include education, advocacy, and direct services including a 24-hour domestic violence hotline, an emergency safe-home and legal advocacy. GMDVP has been providing services for 19 years and serves Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. 24 hour domestic violence hotline: 800.832.1901.

[From a Press Release]

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