I say I love women & men’s faces crack open
like a jawless throat to swallow me
whole. They say, that’s hot.
— Natalie Wee

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. If you or anyone you know have been affected by sexual assault, click here for information on different contact lines to call and support resources for survivors.

This sexual assault awareness month, we are uplifting our LGBTQIA+ communities, as they are at higher risk of sexual assault, harassment, or abuse. The evidence is glaringly clear:

Sexual Assault, according to the Human Rights Coalition, affects members of the LGBTQIA+ community at a higher rate, due to higher rates of poverty, stigma, and marginalization. Sexual assault happens to one in every six women, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). Lisa Chedekel writes that “a new study led by School of Public Health researchers has found that across 75 different research reports, lesbian and bisexual women may be up to 3 times as likely as heterosexual women to report having been sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and gay men appear to be about 15 times as likely as heterosexual men to report the same.”

Body as sport. Eyes on everyone
but each other: a spectacle of choice.
Isn’t real unless a man is done proving he can
make a door out of an unopened envelope.

Sexual assault amongst the LGBTQIA+ community is not always a “hate crime,” (hate crimes, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, are crimes committed against individuals because they are of minority status). Today is not only the last day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month but also a part of Lesbian Visibility Week! The data here, too, is clear: Sexual assault is an epidemic that impacts LGBTQIA+ individuals, and especially women in these communities, at higher rates.

The National LGBTQIA+ Task Force cites the CDC and a 2010 study conducted by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey to explain that “the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner is extremely high in the lesbian, gay and bisexual community with lesbian women (43.8%), gay men (26%), bisexual women (61.1%), and bisexual men (37.3%) reporting experiencing this violence, compared to heterosexual women (35%) and heterosexual men (29%).” Furthermore, in accordance to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, transgender individuals are the most likely to be victims of sexual assault within the LGBTQIA+ community, with about 64% having experienced sexual violence within their lifetimes. A study from 2015 highlights the statistic of sexual assault on transgender individuals at around 47% (Human Rights Coalition).

I love women. I mean in the way that one
chooses her own murder over men.
Body softened with gasoline & ash.

Sexual Assault can affect anyone, but it disproportionately affects those who are in the LGBTQIA+ community, just as it affects people of color disproportionately. One in five black women, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), are survivors of rape: “One in four black girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Thirty-five percent of black women experienced some form of contact sexual violence during their lifetime.” Likewise, the APA added, “forty to sixty percent of black women report being subjected to coercive sexual contact by age 18.” However, statistics on women of color are underreported about sexual assault. These women face challenges on every level to report it, according to the National Organisation of Women (NOW). This includes social stigmas against both women and people of color, distrust of the police, and a lack of overall locations for people to report within communities.

These statistics about sexual assault’s disproportionate impact on LGBTQIA+ communities and women of color are not just numbers on paper; they are glimpses into the trauma, pain, and struggle of marginalized communities. These statistics are more than numbers—they represent real people whose lives have been marked by injustice. We stand in solidarity with these sexual assault survivors against systemic injustice, hate, and discrimination, all of which have made both women of color and LGBTQIA+ people more vulnerable to sexual assault.

To be
unearthed by hands searching for rain
& crawl out of that grave into the story where
there’s no one else.

But there is hope. As technology develops, and social media becomes more and more a part of everyday life, those who commit sexual assault are increasingly being held accountable for what they’re doing. That said, it’s important to establish that this is more common in higher-profile cases, but for women who lack the platform of an influencer or celebrity, accountability via social media is challenging and unpredictable.

We might not be able to eradicate sexual assault overnight, but sexual assault rates have been on the decline. We are standing together with one another, and this is why intersectionality is so important not just during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but in every month. Sexual assault affects women of color and queer women disproportionately to cisgender, heterosexual white women, and it is only together that we can truly fight sexual assault.

The full poem, ON THE QUEER GIRL FANTASY, Can Be Found Here

Resources from the article:

Sexual Assault and the LGBTQ Community – Human Rights Campaign

Sexual Assault in the LGBTQ Community – National Center for Lesbian Rights 

Differences in Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Women’s Experiences of Sexual Assault and Rape in a National US Sample

The Trevor Project

Black women, the forgotten survivors of sexual assault