Since the series of Stonewall Riots of June 28, 1969, which ignited the present lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer rights movement, the LGBTQ populations are today more noticeable in the United States of America. However, the populations endure high rates of discrimination, stigmatization, and violence of community and family discrimination and sexual violence (Ciarlante & Fountain, 2010). In focusing on sexual violence, this research paper addresses the impact of sexual violence experienced by LGBTQ population.
The term sexual violence refers to the activities that include rape (e.g. stranger rape, marital rape), ritual abuse, sexual harassment, blackmails to exposure, and voyeurism (NCAVP, 2010). Sexual assault mostly involves acts of violence or intimidation and the use of sex as a weapon. Sexual violence among the LGBTQ populations is motivated predominantly out of anger and a desire to be perceived as powerful by dominating, mistreating, controlling, and humiliating the victim. Victims of sexual violence are involuntarily compelled and manipulated to participate in the undesirable sexual activity.
In most cases the victims or the survivors of sexual violence are not the cause of their assaults. The offenders are totally responsible for their assault. Sexual violence can happen to any individual irrespective of their race, class, age, or sexual orientation. LGBTQ populations are subject to the same scale of sexual assaults as the overall population. In fact, recent statistics show that they are subject to more sexual violence. According to Brown and Herman (2015), LGBTQ populations are mostly targeted for gender-based abuse and sexual violence primarily due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Due to societal stigmatization and oppression of LGBTQ population, some individuals may be reluctant to reveal their sexual orientation to the service providers and researchers, making it more challenging to obtain accurate statistics on the LGBTQ community.
Lesbian and bisexual women are the most affected by the impact of sexual violence, due to the fact that they often doubly traumatized being oppressed both as women and as members of LBGTQ community. Most lesbian sexual violence survivors experience a degree of isolation, vulnerability, and paranoia. They also experience shame, since both their bodies and lifestyle have been violated. The transgendered community is the target of the most malicious and intentional sexual forms of violence. They are regularly mistreated by the law enforcement officers and medical professionals. In addition, the transgender communities are subject to random street assault and domestic partner assaults. According to Brown and Herman (2015), nearly 50% of transgender and intersex population have either been raped or sexually assaulted by a domestic partner by a romantic partner. Several transgender victims of sexual violence have signs of post-traumatic stress disorder that may stem from the sexual assault. These signs may include hyper-vigilance (frequently being on the guard for danger). They are easily or extremely frightened by unexpected sounds or activities, have anger management issues and panic attacks. They have a poor awareness of one's self and or the surrounding making them develop self-harming behaviors such as addictions and substance abuse.
Sexual violence can lead to self-loathing which is attributed to ones sexuality. With the high level of homophobia in the community, it is of no surprise that gay men suffer from internal conflicts in regards to their sexuality. Sexual violence makes the gay men believe that they somehow deserved it to be sexually assaulted, that they were reaping the rewards for their sexual orientation (Walters, Chen, & Breiding, 2013). Unfortunately, such behaviors of self-blame can be intensified by the unawareness or intolerance of the community who might blame the sexual violence victims by being of the opinion that gay victims in some way may have triggered the assault or are less affected by it since they are gay. Gay men may also averse to report a sexual violence because of fears of blame, victimization, mistrust or intolerance by law enforcement officers or medical personnel. Consequently, the gay men may be deprived of legal rights or protection and necessary medical attention following an event of sexual violence.
Many works of research that have focused on the community who are identified as LGBTQ have shown that this population has been subjected to sexual violence, with high cases reported in academic settings. For instance, Finerans (2002) research shows a connection between sexual violence discrimination and an increase in incidences of suicide attempts and school absenteeism among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. Though there is few researches, several studies show that respondents who identify as LGBTQ community testified higher rates of childhood sexual abuse as compared to the heterosexual respondents. Childhood sexual violence among gay, lesbian, and bisexual victims has been associated with psychological torment, mood disorders, addiction, substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviors. However, the research suggests that childhood sexual assault does not influence sexual orientation.
Issues Related To Intersecting
Over the past several years, the economic hardship in the United States of America has left many families and communities struggling with the state of unemployment, job unpredictability, limited social services and challenges in accessing public benefits. Most of LGBTQ community still struggle even with economic stability. During economic hardship, the situation becomes worse to the sexual violence victims, since they may be among the first to face employment termination, reduction of public benefits and challenges finding employment.
The impacts of existing discrimination in terms of economic climate are severely challenging for LGBTQ populations. For the LGBTQ victims of sexual violence, these factors can be overwhelming. In almost every part of the United States sexual violence emergency shelter for the LGBTQ communities are very rare or in some part do not existent, especially for gay men and transgender individuals. Some programs may often turn away the LGBTQ sexual violence victims because to a lack of capacity to accommodate them or due to institutional and or individual homophobia (Kosciw et.al, 2011). Being faced with these issues, the LGBTQ survivors of sexual violence may face a difficult choice on what to do with their sexual abusers.
They have limited options for secure, affordable housing and low-wage employment that limit their economic independence. The economic hardship together with the societal stigma, discrimination and the sexual violence that the LGBTQ sexual survivors experience, create major barriers for a healthier relationship or a normal life. These factors, together with the societal stigma, discrimination and the violence the LGBTQ sexual survivors experience, create major barriers to having a healthier relationship or a normal life (Brown& Herman (2015).
Many LGBTQ victims experience their first instance of sexual violence before age 25. It is reported that above 90 percent of the victims of rape among the bisexual women occurred before age 25 ("A Hidden Crisis", 2016). Are report by Grant (2011) show that those who portrayed a transgender individuality or gender non-conformity while attending grades K-12 recounted shocking rates of harassment (78%), reported physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%); The reports shows that the harassment was very severe that it made nearly (15%) to drop out of a school in K-12 settings or advanced education level. The respondents who reported to have experienced harassment and abuse by their teachers in K-12 settings exhibited worse health conditions and other outcomes compared to those had not experienced such abuse. Sexual violence and abuse also had extremely damaging effects.
The report by GLESEN (2011) shows nearly thirty percent (26.3%) of public attending high school student in DC identifying as LGBT recounted remaining at home several time during their four years since they felt unsafe in school or on the way to school. Additionally, the research shows that approximately (29.8%) of students missed a class at least once in a month for they felt unsafe or uncomfortable (GLSEN, 2011).
Systems That Contribute To Sexual Violence among the LGBTQ Population
Few Laws that protect LGBTQ victims
Victims of LGBTQ sexual violence have over the years struggled to get same legal recognition and protection as heterosexual victims. Currently, there are few works of state laws that attempts to offers some protections to sexual violence victims of LGBTQ population. Some laws protect gay and lesbian victims generally in their anti-sexual violence laws while others may in some way protect gay and lesbian victims by gender-neutral language. However, there is a significant need for a federal law that will offer uniform and comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ population.
Poor sensitization of LGBTQ population
Poor Sensitization of LGBTQ community and stigmatization has been a major challenge while dealing with cases of sexual violence. For instance, authorities often have little knowledge of how to address sexual violence cases that involve individuals of the LGBTQ community. A police officer may mistake two individuals of the same sex living together as roommates. In such cases, officers may fail to respond properly to the cases of sexual violence since the two parties involved may be reluctant to disclose their relationship status for fear of stigmatization and discrimination.
Actions Being Taken To Address Sexual Violence among the LGBTQ Community
Currently, the Obama administration is being active on LGBTQ issues thanks to many reports and advocacy from non-profit organizations on LGBTQ rights protection. There has been a significant increase in funding from the government at the community level for various services to address LGBTQ population concerns ("2 Studies That Prove Domestic Violence Is an LGBT Issue | Advocate.com", 2015).
There are several organizations in the United States that advocate for the rights of LGBTQ community. Among the organizations is the National Center for Transgender Equality (NTCE), a national social justice organization, dedicated to ending transgender stigmatization, discrimination, and sexual violence through education, campaigns and advocacy on domestic issues of importance to the transgender community. Through supporting transgender community the organization and its partners influence policymakers and others to protect the rights of LGBTQ population. NCTE gives a strong voice for LGBTQ community equality and around the country (Grant et al., 2011).
The federal government is considering a new legal interpretation of the present domestic violence laws at all levels of Federal and State government that will integrate LGBTQ population within the definitions of domestic violence including sexual violence.
To address the problem of sexual violence among the LGBTQ population, an effort should be made to increase community, state, and federal funding for anti-violence public services. The government should enhance institutional support for sexual violence among the LGBTQ population research and reporting. It should take legislative procedures to address the issues of sexual violence among the LGBTQ population.
Plans to improve national response to sexual violence among LGBTQ survivors should include laws, and policy changes that guarantee LGBTQ survivors rights are recognized and fulfilled. The federal laws and state Laws should cover sexual orientation as well as gender individuality to...
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