Each year, the month of June is dedicated to celebrating and honoring LGBTQI+ communities and individuals. Pride Month recognizes the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and individuals of other gender and sexual identities have had on the world. It also honors members of the community who have been lost, especially to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.
STESA would also like to take this opportunity to provide education on the issue of sexual assault. LGBTQI+ individuals are at increased risk of sexual assault, particularly due to harmful stereotypes and myths about LGBTQI+ experiences. Many sexual assaults perpetrated against these individuals are hate crimes, committed with the intent to punish the target for their perceived nonconformity to traditional gender and sexual norms. In a study of 273 participants identifying as gay or lesbian, 52% of the participants reported at least one incident of sexual assault/coercion.
Perpetrators of sexual assault are often someone the survivor knows. According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. Similarly, 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
LGBTQI+ individuals also face unique challenges to healing from sexual assault due to barriers to access to resources, especially medical and legal resources. For example, LGBTQI+ survivors may be reluctant to disclose their assault out of fear that non-LGBTQI+ communities will reinforce the myth that LGBTQI+ relationships are dysfunctional. Additionally, the survivor may not be “out” and fear that coming forward will reveal the survivor’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, resulting in negative repercussions from non-LGBTQI+ communities.
Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) provides confidential counseling and support services to survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones. Through education and awareness, STESA is committed to change the cultural norms that enable sexual assault to exist. Our service area extends from Carpinteria to the Santa Ynez Valley.