June is the month of Pride, which is an LGBTQIA+ tradition of honoring those before us, celebrating our present, and actively creating a better world and future. Pride is about community, and also about serving that community. It marks the anniversary of Stonewall in 1969 which was led primarily by two trans women of color: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. They were fighting against the assault and abuse of LGBT people in their community. Marsha and Sylvia were civil rights activists throughout their lives, including creating STAR, an organization dedicated to helping young, homeless trans women of color. They are civil rights heroines, and amazing examples to follow on how we can make a difference in our communities.
Stigma and discrimination create a specific set of barriers for the LGBTQIA+ community, and those barriers can become harder to navigate as the identities of race, ability, age, etc. intersect. LGBTQIA+ individuals experience extremely high statistics of sexual assault in the US.
44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
46% of bisexual women have been raped. 22% have been raped by an intimate partner.
40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape.
Almost 50% of trans people have been sexually assaulted, with Native American trans individuals at 65%, multiracial at 59%, Middle Eastern at 58%, and Black at 53%
What we know about these statistics are that the assaults often happen while these individuals are in their youth, 24 years and younger, and often by someone they know and trust. The more that marginalized identities intersect, the more likely it is for sexual assault to occur. Sexual assault and abuse are about power, and when people are marginalized by society, it is easier to have systemic power over them, and to abuse that power without repercussion.
25-30% of all relationships are abusive across all gender identities and sexual orientations. This statistic is horrifying in itself, but it can be particularly difficult for LGBTQIA+ individuals to leave their partner because of discrimination and lack of resources. “85 percent of victim advocates surveyed by the NCAVP reported having worked with an LGBTQ survivor who was denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Many survivors and victims don’t feel safe to come forward because resources may deny them because of their gender or sexual orientation. Many also worry that coming forward can out their partner, and lead toward their partners being discriminated against.
There is a lot of positive change happening though. Like Marsha and Sylvia, the LGBTQIA+ community has continued to support each other. Because of stigma and discrimination, resources that focus on supporting LGBTQIA+ people is crucial. The Northwest Network is a network of bisexual, trans, lesbian & gay survivors of abuse. It is designed to help LGBTQIA+ individuals find the best resource for them, and works to end violence and abuse by building loving and equitable relationships in our community and across the country. They provide support for survivors, community engagement and education, youth programs and activities, and provider training and technical assistance.
Trans Lifeline is a life line run by and for trans individuals. This line is primarily for transgender people experiencing a crisis. “We will do our very best to connect them with services that can help them meet that need.” They practice recipient-centered and trauma-informed support, meaning they ask what folks want to see happen and how they can be of help if they need it. By listening to and trusting trans people, they allow them to self-determine their own path to care. 
The New York State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Intimate Partner Violence Network is a statewide, multidisciplinary group of direct service providers, community-based agencies, advocates, educators, policy makers, and funders who are working on behalf of LGBTQ communities affected by intimate partner violence to ensure that intimate partner violence services are LGBTQ inclusive. The Network works with the Anti-Violence Project to advocate on behalf of victims and survivors in order to ensure their voices are heard, and that they receive the services they need.
All of these resources are a great model, as they show how to give dignity and autonomy to marginalized groups, and how communities can empower themselves to create positive change. They work either directly with victims and survivors, or help create change in systems so that barriers will no longer exist for LGBTQIA+ victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
No matter your gender or sexual orientation, there are ways you can support LGBTQIA+ victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Listen to their story, believe them, reassure them that it wasn’t their fault, keep their disclosure confidential, and never pressure them for more information than they want to share. It is incredibly important that victims and survivors are given autonomy. They know their circumstances and what is safe for them better than anyone else. Serving community means listening to the community for what they need, and letting them choose their future.
The Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse https://www.nwnetwork.org/
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project http://gmdvp.org/gmdvp/
National LGBTQ Institute on IPV http://lgbtqipv.org
Anti-Violence Project https://avp.org
Trans Lifeline https://www.translifeline.org/
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