Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people experience high rates of intimate partner violence (IPV). The data shows this often begins in adolescence and can repeat throughout a lifetime. Bisexual women experience much higher rates of IPV and sexual violence (SV) than the general population and gays and lesbians. Similarly, new data on the US transgender population shows that transgender people experience extremely high levels of all violence, discrimination, and lack of access to care and resources. Transgender people also experience high rates of IPV.
It Starts with Us
Preventing sexual violence starts with all of us.
Four in 10 lesbian women (43.8%), 6 in 10 bisexual women (61.1%), and 1 in 3
heterosexual women (35.0%) reported experiencing rape, physical violence, and/or stalking within the context of an intimate partner relationship at least once during their lifetime. This translates to an estimated 714,000 lesbian women, 2 million bisexual women, and 38.3 million heterosexual women in the United States. (Walters, Jenkins, & Merrick, 2010)
The data shows that bisexual women are experience higher rates of sexual violence in all categories. They are also experiencing higher incidences of sexual violence and IPV over a lifetime. While the perpetrators against bisexual and heterosexual women are overwhelming male, female perpetrators make up 67.4% of IPV perpetrators against lesbian women. The majority of perpetrators against bisexual, and heterosexual men were female (bisexual men 78.5% and heterosexual men 99.5%). Most gay men (90.7%) reported having only male perpetrators of intimate partner violence.
Violence by an Intimate Partner (NISVS report 2010)
The lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by
an intimate partner was:
For women: For men:
– Lesbian – 43.8% – Gay – 26.0%
– Bisexual – 61.1% – Bisexual – 37.3%
– Heterosexual – 35.0% – Heterosexual – 29.0%
Lesbian women and gay men reported levels of intimate partner violence and sexual violence equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals (Walters, Jenkins, & Merrick, 2010). Gay men were at high risk for death at the hands of an intimate partner. In 2013, 76% of IPV homicide victims were gay men (Ahmed, Jindasurat, & Traub, 2014).
Nationally, the data on violence against transgender and gender non-conforming populations is also staggering. More than half (54%) of transgender respondents in the 2015 US Transgender Survey experienced some form of intimate partner violence. More than one-third (35%) experienced physical violence by an intimate partner, compared to 30% of the U.S. adult population (James, et al, 2016). Nearly one-quarter (24%) experienced severe physical violence by current or former partner, compared with 18% of the U.S. population (James, et al, 2016). Transgender populations experience unequal treatment or service for sexual violence, medical care, and police protection. Transgender people of color are even more likely to receive unequal service than white transgender people. Transgender people experience astronomically high rates of violence and discrimination. Perpetrators can use a person’s transgender status and therein societal discrimination to victimize their intimate partner. Respondents spoke about their IPV experiences.
“I was a victim of spousal abuse for over ten years. This grew worse when I
transitioned, as [my transition] became an easy justi cation for verbally,
emotionally and physically abusing me.”
“My trans status was used as a tool to [make me] stay with my former partner.
She would say things such as ‘no one else would ever love you.’” (James, et al, 2016)
According to the New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual were three times more likely to have been forced to have sex or experienced physical dating violence. Gender identity data was not captured in this survey. Lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) students were also more likely to have experienced sexual violence in the last year (Tomedi, et al, 2016). This data shows that violence against LGB people begins early in life.
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2. Integrate LGBTQ relationships into a comprehensive sexual education for youth and create early-intervention programs for LGBTQ youth.
3. Focus prevention on populations most at risk. Bisexual and transgender populations have extremely high rates of IPV. LGBTQ populations with intersecting identities of undocumented, HIV-affected, youth, and people of color are disproportionately impacted by IPV.
4. Violence prevention programs should address at least one of the three types of violence. The first type of violence is perpetrated by heterosexual identified person against LGBTQ-indentified people. The second type of violence is in-community such as IPV between two LGBTQ-identified people, and the third type of violence are institutions such as policies that limit LGBTQ identified people’s ability to access resources or citizenship benefits.
5. Partner with LGBTQ community to assess the community need and readiness for SV and IPV prevention. Taylor programing to the needs of the community.
6. Increase local community resources capacity to serve the LGBTQ community through training staff and partnering with local LGBTQ organizations.
7. All anti-violence organizations should adopt and utilize an anti-oppression framework. Prevention programs should teach awareness of internalized oppression patterns.
Fierce Pride history of Sexual Violence Prevention Work
In 2016, Fierce Pride researched and reported on intimate partner violence root causes, and evidence-based prevention strategies. Fierce Pride developed and piloted a Healthy Relationships Skills Class for LGBTQ people in Farmington, New Mexico. Fierce Pride consulted on a statewide outreach campaign called It Starts with Us (ItStartsWithUsNM.org).
In 2017, Fierce Pride received funding to launch the Healthy Relationship Skills Class for LGBTQ people as an online course available to people across the state. In coordination with sexual violence prevention organizations throughout the state, Fierce Pride will launch It Starts With Us campaign via our blog posts and social media.
Ahmed, O., Jindasurat, C., & Traub, K. (2014). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence in 2013 (Rep.). National Coalition of Anti-violence Programs.
James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Ana , M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.
Lang, K. S., Guerrero, C., Bergeron-Naper, M., Coulter-Thompson, E. I., & Przewoznik, J. (2012). Guide for Transformative Prevention Programming: Sexual Violence & Individuals who identify as LGBTQ [Pamphlet]. National Sexual Violence Resource Center and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
Walters, M., Jenkins, L., & Merrick, M. (2010). National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): Summary of Findings for 2010. PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e621642012-003
Waters, Emily. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). (2016). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence in 2015. New York, NY.