Welcome to the month of April. Spring (at least in theory!), new beginnings…and Sexual Assault Awareness month. The quirky thing about equality? We are all equally HUMAN. That means no matter the letter on the LGBT spectrum, there are those of us who make mistakes. Who make poor choices. And who are the victims of the people who make those choices. So what does this have to do with the LGBT community? Well, if 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 12% of girls and 5% of boys reported having been sexually assaulted before the 12th grade. (RAINN.org). A lot of those victims are LGBT youth and adults. Also, LGBT victims may be less likely to report their assault, less psychologically able to process their assault, less medically knowledgeable about caring for themselves and/or have fewer family, community or financial resources to deal with the aftermath of the assault.
What are some of the common after affects that a victim may experience after being sexually assaulted? When compared to those who have not been victimized, victims of sexual assault are:
3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
Check out these great articles about Sexual Assault in the LGBT community below AND if you are a local Yorker, we are blessed to have a fantastic proactively LGBT supportive agency in our area that specifically provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, ACCESS York, a part of the YWCA of York. As a comprehensive victim service center, their services include:
- 24-Hour Confidential Hotline – Call 800.262.8444 if you think you are in an emotionally or physically violent relationship to talk to a staff member about your situation and your options. For concerns about sexual violence or other violent crime with you or someone in your family, call 1.800.422.3204.
- Emergency Safe Shelter – Available any time of the day or night for victims of domestic violence and their children who are in fear of abuse. Meals, clothing, and other support are available. Call 800.262.8444 for the support group schedule.
- Support Groups – Available for victims of domestic violence. Call 1-800-262-8444 for the support group schedule.
- Transitional Housing in York and Hanover – Survivors of abuse can live for one or two years in affordable housing as they work towards their goals. Call 800.262.8444 for information.
- Hospital Response/Medical Advocacy – Volunteers or staff meet with victims at the hospital any time of the day or night to offer support and services. Staff also collaborates with the health care community to ensure quality services to victims.
- Legal Advocacy – Staff offer options for victims (and their significant others) of domestic violence, sexual violence, or other violent crimes. Staff will assist with securing a Protection from Abuse Order and will accompany victims to court. Call 717.846.5400 for an appointment.
- Individual and Group Counseling – Available to victims of all ages to assist in healing from violence. Call 717.854.3131 for an appointment.
- Community Outreach and Violence Prevention – Awareness and educational workshops offered at schools and in the community regarding warning signs of abuse, teen dating violence issues, sexual violence prevention, sexual harassment, workplace violence, and bystander intervention. Call 800.262.8444 for more information.
Speak out. Get help. Know that no matter what you wear, where you go, who you are with, what you drank, what you said – sexual assault is NEVER your fault. You are not alone and there are people who care and are willing to help. Please let them.
Sexual Assault & LGBT Survivors from the University of Michigan Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center – http://sapac.umich.edu/article/58
Sexual Assault in the LGBT Community from the National Center for Lesbian Rights – http://www.nclrights.org/sexual-assault-in-the-lgbt-community/
Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence in the LGBTQ Community from the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs – http://www.wcsap.org/lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer-community