Sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking happen to people of all ages, genders, races, nationalities, religions, socio-economic classes, and sexual orientations.


People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) and are also survivors of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking face the barriers that all survivors face to seeking help, and they also face barriers that are unique to the LGBT community.


OUSAP advocates for all survivors, regardless of sexual orientation, sexual identification, and gender expression. You are not expected to “out” yourself to get support from OUSAP. You do not have to answer questions about your abuser’s/attacker’s name or gender if you don’t want to. We recognize that you have already been through enough and that you only need to share information that you are comfortable sharing with us. 


Barriers that LGBT survivors face


In addition to feeling self-blame, shame, fear, anger, and depression like all survivors, LGBT survivors may also be led to question their sexuality and if their attack/abuse was a result of their sexuality. LGBT survivors may feel as if they are being punished for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. 


When talking to others about their attack or abuse, LGBT survivors may feel as if their sexual orientation or gender identity is being focused on more than the actual assault/abuse.


LGBT survivors may be reluctant to tell family and friends who do not approve of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity because they may fear that their attack/abuse will only reinforce negative stereotypes about the LGBT community. In addition, the LGBT community may not want to admit that domestic violence or sexual assault occurs in their community for the same reason and therefore may not support the survivor.


Survivors who are not “out” may not want to seek counseling, report the assault/abuse, or talk to anyone about the assault/abuse for fear that it will mean they have to disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.


Some local resources for survivors of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking lack the training, sensitivity, and expertise needed to adequately advocate for and help LGBT survivors. 


*Adapted from Michigan’s Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Center


Intimate Partner Violence


Experts believe that domestic violence occurs within LGBT relationships just as much and with the same amount of severity as in the heterosexual community. LGBT domestic violence is very largely underreported. When it is acknowledged, it is often reported as something other than domestic violence.


Some states explicitly exclude same-sex domestic violence survivors from protection under criminal laws. Other states are gender neutral but apply only to household members. The remaining 30 states and Washington, D.C. have domestic violence laws that include dating partners.


There is a myth that LGBT abuse is mutual; it is not.


LGBT survivors may not know other LGBT people outside of their abusive relationship; therefore, leaving the abuser may result in total isolation.


Transgender Abuse


All abuse is about power and control. LGBT survivors face the same types of physical and emotional violence that all survivors face. LGBT survivors also experience physical and emotional violence that is unique to the LGBT community. Transgendered survivors may encounter the following types of abuse:

  • Using offensive pronouns such as “it” to refer to the transgender partner
  • Ridiculing the transgender partner’s body and/or appearance
  • Telling the transgender partner that he or she is not a real man or woman
  • Denying the transgender partner’s access to medical treatment or hormones or Coercing him or her to not pursue medical treatment


*Adapted from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence




"This project was supported by Grant No. 2009-WA-AX-0003 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/ exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women."