The CARE Office is dedicated to providing culturally competent services to individuals regardless of how they identify. CARE recognizes the barriers the LGBTQ+ community may face while seeking services and we are dedicated to providing free, accessible, competent and confidential advocacy services to all members of the UC Merced community.
While domestic violence affects people of every race, class and age, it disproportionately affects members of the LGBTQ+ community, who often have less access to safety nets, like shelters, or who may be afraid of turning to law enforcement for help. Abusive partners in LGBTQ+ relationships use all the same tactics to gain power and control as abusive partners in heterosexual relationships — physical, sexual or emotional abuse; financial control; isolation and more. Abusive partners in LGBTQ+ relationships also reinforce their tactics that maintain power and control with societal factors that compound the complexity a survivor faces in leaving or getting safe in an LGBTQ+ relationship.
Every demographic and every community, including the LGBTQ+ community, is affected by sexual violence. Estimates say that lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience sexual violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexuals. Studies suggest that around half of transgender people and bisexual women will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetimes.
As a community, LGBTQ+ people face higher rates of poverty, stigma, and marginalization, which puts them at a greater risk for sexual assault. LGBTQ+ people also face high rates of hate-motivated violence, which may take form in sexual assault. Additionally, LGBTQ+ people are often hyper-sexualized which stigmatizes their relationships and can lead to intimate partner violence that stems from internalized homophobia and shame. Within the LGBTQ+ community, transgender people and bisexual women face the most alarming rates of sexual violence. Among both of these populations, sexual violence begins early, often during childhood.
Examples of tactics to deny an LGBT survivor from seeking support and services:
- Threats to “out” a partner’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Saying no one will believe the survivor because they are LGBTQ+ or that the survivor “deserves” the abuse.
- Justifying abuse by saying the survivor is not “really” lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
- Denying support resources through manipulation of friends and family. (Particularly an issue to members of LGBTQ+ community, where resources are fewer in neighborhoods or social outlets.)
- Portraying the abuse as mutual and/or consensual, or as an expression of masculinity or a desired trait.