LGBTQ Issues

Sexual Assault (SA)

The violent acts of sexual assault and rape can happen to anyone of any class, race, age, sex, or gender. Sexual assault and rape are issues of serious concern for those who are LGBTQ. Through physical, psychological or emotional coercion, unwanted sexual contact including forced sexual intercourse can occur in a variety of situations, including intimate partner relationships. LGBTQ persons can also experience anti-gay sexual assault by homophobic heterosexual perpetrators who use sexual violence as a way of "punishing" them for their sexual orientation. These acts of sexual violence are known as "hate crimes."

And, just as with those in the "straight" population, many LGBTQ sexual assaults go unreported. Victims often hesitate to report the sexual assault or rape to the police or get help for fear of homophobic ridicule or exposure of their sexuality. Many LGBTQ sexual assault victims also experience overwhelming feelings of shame and isolation—that they somehow caused the assault--particularly if the assault was a part of a hate crime.

SA Facts

  • 52% of gay men and lesbians reported at least one incident of sexual coercion by a same sex partner (Waldner & Vaden Gratch, 1997.)
  • Men living with male intimate partners experience more intimate partner violence (including sexual assault and rape) than do men living with female intimate partners(Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000.)
  • Studies on lesbian sexual violence find rates of over 30% of respondents claiming they had experienced attempted or completed sexual assault or rape by another woman(Brand & Kidd, 1986.)
  • A 1991 study of university students reported that of their sample of gay/bi-sexual students (including both gay men and lesbians) approximately 18% had been victims of rape, approximately 12% had been victims of attempted rape, and approximately 37% had been victims of sexual coercion (Baier, et al., 1991.)
  • A study of gay, lesbian and bisexual adults showed that 41% reported being a victim of a hate crime after the age of 16 (Herek, 1999).
  • It is estimated that only 13-14% of anti-gay violence is reported to the police. Victims often believe that discussion of their sexuality will subject them to further victimization (CALCASA, 2006.)
  • Research has shown that victims of hate crimes are more likely to experience psychological distress such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anger than other victims of other crimes. If someone is a victim of a rape or sexual assault that is a hate crime, they are more likely to experience psychological effects that are seen both with hate crimes and rape and sexual assault (RAINN, 2008).
  • Similarities of LGBTQ and Opposite-Sex/Heterosexual SA

  • No one deserves to be sexually assaulted or raped.
  • The majority of same-sex sexual assault occurs between people who know each other or who are intimately involved.
  • The sexually assaulted or raped individual feels alone, isolated and afraid, and is often convinced that the rape was somehow her or his fault, or could have been avoided if she or he knew what to do.
  • Unique Characteristics of LGBTQ/Same -Sex SA

  • Often, LGBTQ victims of sexual assault are blamed for the assault because of their sexual orientation.
  • Sexual assault can include forced vaginal or anal penetration, forced oral sex, or other forced sexual activity, and may include a penis, fist, finger, dildo, or other object.
  • Neither the perpetrators nor the victims of LGBTQ sexual assault and rape are always gay or lesbian. Male-to-male sexual assault is at times perpetrated by a heterosexual male against another male perceived to be gay.
  • While many believe that "women just don't do that sort of thing," women can sexually assault other women, and lesbian sexual assault and rape do occur. Lesbian sexual assault is rarely perpetrated by heterosexual women or women who are strangers.
  • While some LGBTQ sexual activity can include mutually agreed upon "rough play" such as S&M/bondage, it is considered sexual assault if it continues beyond the "safe word" or consensual point.
  • To Support Someone Who is a Victim

  • Listen, and be patient. It may take the victim some time to deal with what happened to them. Rape and sexual assault are crimes that take away an individual's power, so try to let them do things on their own time as they are ready to do them.
  • Encourage the victim to report the rape or sexual assault to the police-or call 911.
  • Let the victim know that professional help is available. Encourage the victim to contact your local rape crisis center to speak with a sexual assault advocate.
  • If the victim is willing to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to go with them to wherever they need to go; the hospital, police station, etc.
  • If You Are a Victim of Sexual Assault
    LGBTQ individuals are at times reluctant to report sexual assault to the authorities-the police, healthcare providers, the courts-- for fear that they will be "outed" by the process, or experience a lack of competent issue-sensitive help and support, or homophobia. For many gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people, these fears are real and not to be downplayed or ignored.

    Please know that if you are uncomfortable disclosing your sexuality and/or afraid of a hostile response that there is confidential and LGBTQ-aware help and support available.

    1. Get away from the attacker, and call 911 or the police to report the assault.
    2. Call a friend or trusted family member. You can also call your local rape crisis center to speak with an advocate. The trained sexual assault advocate can answer your questions, and accompany you through the police interview and the medical exam.
    3. Get medical attention. Once at the hospital, when you report a rape, the hospital will perform a forensic medical exam, to obtain evidence of the attack; hair, fibers, fluids. This evidence will be preserved for forensic analysis.
    4. Get an HIV test. Because of the possibility of HIV or STD transmission in a sexual assault, it is important that you get an HIV baseline test and STD check. Because it can take 3 weeks to 6 months to detect HIV, you will need to get tested over the next 6 months. There are anti-retroviral "post-exposure prophylaxis" or PEP medicines that you can take that may reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV. The doctor will explain how these medicine might stop you from being infected with HIV, and any possible side effects of these medicines.
    5. Don't be afraid to seek the help you need. Healing from sexual assault is possible. The sexual assault advocate or your local LGBTQ activist group can refer you to experienced and non-judgmental counselors and support group.

    RAINN, 1-800-656-HOPE
    GLBT National Hotline, 1-888-THE-GLNH (1-888-843-4564)


    RAINN. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at, and publicizes the hotline's free, confidential services; educates the public about sexual assault; and leads national efforts to prevent sexual assault, improve services to victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

    LAMBDA GLBT Community Services. LAMBDA is a non-profit, gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgender agency dedicated to reducing homophobia, inequality, hate crimes, and discrimination by encouraging self-acceptance, cooperation, and non-violence.

    Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project. The Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project is a grassroots, non-profit organization founded by a gay male survivor of domestic violence and developed through the strength, contributions and participation of the community.

    National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. NCAVP seeks to address the pervasive problem of violence committed against and within the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive communities.

    GLBT National Help Center. The GLBT National Help Center is organization that is dedicated to meeting the needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and those questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity.

    State & Local

    Dakota OutRight. Dakota Outright creates opportunity for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender North Dakotans and their families through leadership in service, development, education, advocacy and action.

    University of North Dakota Ten Percent Society: Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Ally Community.A student-run, community-based organization open to people of all sexual orientations, whose primary goal is to provide a safe, respectful and supportive environment for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Students, Faculty, Staff & Members of the greater Grand Forks community.

    Pride Collective and Community Center. Working to create a sense of community and promote education and social activities aimed at furthering the social, emotional, and physical well-being and development of the GLBT community in the Red River Valley.

    Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). PFLAG is a non-profit, tax exempt organization of parents, families, and friends of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons.

    Central Dakota PFLAG
    Post Office Box 2491
    Bismarck, ND 58502-2491
    Phone: 701-223-7773

    PFLAG Grand Forks
    3210 Cherry
    Grand Forks, ND 58201
    Phone: 701-775-4447

    PFLAG Minot
    Uni Med South
    600 17th Ave., SE
    Minot, ND 58701

    PFLAG Fargo-Moorhead
    Post Office Box 10625
    Fargo, ND 58106
    Phone: (701) 232-8361