Sexual assault is devastating to all victims, regardless of sex, gender, and sexual orientation, and you may feel reactions that are shared by male, female, trans, and genderqueer survivors. Whatever the circumstances of your assault, you may have fears and concerns specifically related to you being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning in addition to those that any survivor of sexual assault may have. These concerns may not only be about what occurred during the assault, but how the health care and criminal justice systems, your friends, family, and, if you are in a relationship, your partner might treat you.
Some issues you may be dealing with include:
- Fear of disclosure to friends, family and/or employees.
- Fear that your sexual orientation or gender identification will be seen as your central "issue" to health care providers, instead of the assault.
- Concerns that your case will not be taken seriously because of your sexual orientation.
- Fear that you will be arrested for violating Virginia's anti-sodomy laws.
- Your dating or intimate partner was the one who committed the assault.
- Questioning your sexual orientation after the assault.
- Feelings of vulnerability, guilt or self-blame.
It may be helpful for you to know that you will not be required to disclose your sexual orientation to anyone, unless you choose to do so - even in the emergency room. Regardless of how you feel about your sexuality - still questioning, closeted, or totally "out" - you are entitled to the same sensitive treatment heterosexual survivors should receive.
If you suspect or know that the assailant knew you were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, you may want to report the assailant to a hate crimes reporting hotline. Anti-gay violence is not a hate crime in Virginia, but Equality Virginia in Richmond and the U.S. Department of Justice can provide information.
Above all, it is important to remember that the assault is not your fault. This may be hard to acknowledge if you are still coming to terms with your sexuality or gender identification, or the assailant indicated that he/she knew of your orientation. Remember, you have the right to services that are non-judgmental and to surround yourself with those who can emotionally support you best through the healing process.