CDC: Gay Men, Lesbian, and Bisexuals at Equal or Greater Risk of Sexual Assault

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gmdvp_smBOSTON, Massachusetts — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the first set of national data on intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking victimization by sexual orientation. The report found that bisexual individuals, “lesbian women and gay men reported levels of intimate partner violence and sexual violence equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals.”

Lesbians sexual violence higher than others

According to the report, the lifetime prevalence of sexual violence other than rape for gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals is equal to or greater than that of heterosexuals. Lesbian women experience sexual violence at a rate of 46.4% and bisexual women 74.9%, compared to heterosexual women at 43.3%. Gay men experience sexual violence at a rate of 40.2%, bisexual men 47.4%, compared to heterosexual men at 20.8%.

These higher figures are reinforced by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey which reports that gay, lesbian and bisexual adults experience sexual assault at a prevalence rate more than double that of heterosexuals in Massachusetts. While 13% of heterosexual adults report unwanted sexual contact at some time in their lives, the prevalence rate increased to 26% for gay/lesbian adults and 37% for bisexual adults. Both studies did not include information on transgender people, but initial research indicates significantly higher rates of sexual violence. A study of transgender women in Massachusetts indicated that 60% had been forced to have sex against their will.

Despite the high number of victims and survivors of sexual assault, there is a lack of GLBTQ culturally-specific services. The Massachusetts Department 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 and male perpetrators” and further notes that the GLBTQ population “faces additional barriers to receiving necessary services.”

The Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project (GMDVP) established the first GLBTQ specific sexual assault case manager program in Massachusetts to support GLBTQ survivors. The program, a collaboration with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, provides support for adult GLBTQ survivors, their family members and partners, who have experienced sexual violence, including sexual assault, rape, or abuse.

GMDVP’s sexual assault case manager can be reached by phone at 617-779-2127 or by email at supportservices@gmdvp.org.

[From a News Release]