For all people who experience Sexual Abuse, the after-effects may be very similar: sense of guilt, mental health disorders, decreased self-esteem, difficulty relating to other people, among many others.
In several cases, people can be re-victimized by people in their close environment as well as by institutions and others. And for those who belong to the LGBT community, there may also be greater stigmatization due to the various myths surrounding sexual violence.
Impacts of Sexual Abuse on members of the LGBT community
Although each person is different and copes with their experiences in a particular way, many of the reactions following a sexual abuse experience are often very similar. Identify some of that reactions:
- Concern about whether people would believe them One of the main concerns that victims of sexual abuse have is whether others will believe what happened to them.
- They permanently ask themselves whether they are guilty. The feeling of shame, guilt, or being constantly reviewing the facts to find out what went wrong and what led to this situation.
- Sense of loneliness. Those who have been sexually abused often feel that they have nobody to share their pain and that they have to go through such a painful experience by themselves without anyone else to support them.
- Difficulty to identify themselves as a survivor of sexual abuse. When the history of sexual abuse does not correspond to the preconceived ideas of sexual abuse, it is difficult for the victim to identify that has been a victim of sexual abuse.
- Beliefs regarding the concept that sexual abuse does not affect members of the LGBT community. Many of the myths that still exist and remain in the collective thinking, make people mistakenly think that members of the LGBT community do not usually suffer this type of aggressions and, therefore, in many cases people commonly do not believe in them.
- Support may be harder to find. When a person identifies itself/himself/herself as a member of the LGBT community it can be more complicated to break the silence and find support because of the stigmatization that in some cases they suffer because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
As you can see, besides the effects that have already been identified as impacting the lives of people who have survived sexual abuse, certain false beliefs make it even more complex for the LGBT Community to overcome this trauma.
Myths about sexual abuse and sexual orientation
Lack of communication about sexual abuse means there are certain myths that remain in the collective thinking that contribute to a further stigmatization of members of the LGBT community and leave them more vulnerable to re-victimization. Learn about some of these myths:
Children and members of the LGBT community cannot be abused. There is still a widespread false belief that only women are vulnerable to sexual violence, that neither men nor members of the LGBT community can be sexually assaulted. This is compounded by the idea that men who suffer this type of trauma will not be able to be “real men”.
Victim blaming if they experience sexual arousal during the abuse. For many perpetrators of sexual abuse, they do not use physical violence and as a natural result of stimulation, the body may respond with sexual arousal. Although for many survivors this is a reason to feel guilty or ashamed, it does not mean that it is consensual, nor does it mean that it is being enjoyed.
The consequences of sexual abuse are more severe for women. Regardless of sex, gender identity or sexual orientation, the short- and long-term effects are traumatic and severe for anyone who suffers sexual violence. Depending on who the abuser is and how close he/she/it is to the victim, how long the abusive situation lasted, whether the victim told what happened to him/her/it, and whether he/she obtained effective support, the consequences may change.
Perpetrators of child sexual abuse are homosexuals. The sexual orientation of the perpetrator does not determine the abusive conduct. Studies have shown that most perpetrators of sexual abuse identify themselves as heterosexual and at the time of the assault, they are often engaged in a heterosexual relationship.
Abused children become homosexual adults. It may happen that victims of sexual abuse present confusion about their sexual identity and orientation, but no theory indicates that sexual orientation is linked to experiences such as sexual abuse. A survivor of sexual abuse can go through a healing process and be a happy and successful adult with a fulfilling life.
These are just some of the myths surrounding sexual abuse. All of them are far from reality; nevertheless, they remain in the collective imagination and make LGBT people more exposed to the violation of their rights and to re-victimization.
In the #YoDigoNoMás Movement we provide support to all survivors of sexual abuse regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. Learn more about the Movement and join our cause.