We asked over 1,000 LGBT+ people in the UK about their experiences of sexual violence.
LGBT+ respondents were subjected to a range of different types of sexual violence. 53% felt that their LGBT+ identity was linked to, or the reason for, at least one instance of sexual violence they were subjected to.
Around two thirds of 684 survey respondents experienced an increase in suicidal thoughts (67%) or self–harm (64%) following sexual violence.
Of 970 respondents, 82% had told someone about the abuse they had experienced. However, it had taken most of them a long time to do so – only one third (32%) of respondents had spoken about the abuse within six months of the incident taking place.
Of 970 respondents who had experience sexual violence, 18% had never told anyone about their most significant experience of sexual violence.
Sexual violence was found to affect people in profound and long-lasting ways: 85% experienced negative impacts on their mental health; 77% experienced negative impacts on their intimate relationships; 67% had an increase in suicidal thoughts and 64% increased self-harming.
The findings underline the need for increased understanding of LGBT+ identities and experiences in statutory services such as the police. These services should be provided with training on LGBT+ identities, experiences of sexual violence and appropriate referral pathways to ensure that all LGBT+ victims and survivors of sexual violence are offered support that meets their needs.
LGBT+ victims of sexual violence require a specialist understanding and response. The UK government needs to provide dedicated, long-term national funding for specialist ‘by and for’ services that includes specialist advocacy, therapeutic services and practical support. All young people should be educated about healthy relationships, which should explicitly include healthy LGBT+ relationships. These lessons should also educate young people about consent, as outlined in the Department for Education’s statutory guidance, that is additionally and specifically inclusive of consent in LGBT+ relationships.
The government should bring forward a comprehensive ban on so-called “conversion therapy” without delay. The ban needs to cover the entirety of the LGBT+ community and must include the full range of so-called “conversion therapy” practices that exist.