Content Warning: This article will discuss sexual assault and violence.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April 2023
April is a month to raise awareness of sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is dedicated to the survivors of sexual violence and to the education on this important and delicate subject.
Schools and universities should teach students, from an early age on, about consent. Enthusiastic consent should be a common practice during sex. It is not a turn off. Consent should never be taken for granted. Always, I repeat, always ask for consent.
Trans people are four times more likely to experience violence and abuse compared to cis people. This includes sexual violence. In their 2023 review, ILGA Europe found that hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community have led to the past year being the most violent year in a decade.
Research estimates that around half of trans people will experience sexual violence throughout their lives. The LGBTQ+ community is more likely to face poverty, homelessness, and discrimination. All of which, put them at a higher risk for sexual assault.
The 2015 US Transgender Survey found that 47% of trans people have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. People of colour were also more likely to experience this violence. Almost 1 in 5 trans people (17%) who stayed in homeless shelters were sexually assaulted because they were trans.
Sexual violence occurs predominantly among marginalised communities. It disproportionately affects women, in particular women of colour and trans women. Men can be victims of sexual assault too and oftentimes fall victim to toxic masculinity and shame around sexual assault.
UN Women UK’s survey found that 97% of women between the ages of 18-24 experienced sexual harassment. Almost all of them (96%) decided not to report the instances, due to them believing it would not help or change their situation. Moreover, Rape Crisis England & Wales shows that at least 1 in 4 women have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult.
Sadly, the most common experience all survivors go through is that others do not believe their story. It is all too common for the police and the judicial system to dismiss and invalidate people’s experiences of sexual assault. Often, survivors are also attacked, and their choices questioned.
What were you wearing? Were you drinking? This line of questioning only serves to put the blame on the victims instead of the actual perpetrator. Let’s make one thing clear: it is absolutely NOT the survivor’s fault, only the assaulter is to blame. Always believe the victim!
What to remember if you have been sexually assaulted
As stated before, if you have been sexually assaulted, please remember that it is not your fault. Any form of sexual violence is a crime, no matter who the perpetrator is. It does not matter what you were wearing or what you were doing leading up to the sexual assault. Please, do not be scared to seek help. It is important to surround yourself with supportive people. You are not alone.
It is your personal choice whether or not you want to report the crime to the police. You can also take as much time as you need before making this decision. However, do consider getting medical assistance as you may have suffered serious injuries or may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
For a list of LGBTQ+ friendly resources and hotlines, visit the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) website.
GenderGP is also here to help. If you would like to talk about your experiences of sexual assault, you can book a session with one of our qualified counsellors. All our counsellors are either trans or have worked extensively with the trans community. You do not have to worry about your gender, or your story being invalidated. We believe you.