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Friday 20 April 2018

Half of LGBT survivors of sexual violence wait over 10 years to report the crime - report

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Meadhbh McGrath

Gay and bisexual people who have experienced sexual violence can take up to twice as long as their heterosexual counterparts to report the crime, a new study has found.

The first national Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) report on LGBT survivors of sexual violence attending rape crisis centres was published today.

The research, conducted in 2013, found that 4pc of the total number who attended 15 rape crisis centres for counselling and support identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB).

Those 88 survivors disclosed higher levels of multiple incidents of sexual violence than heterosexual survivors – 26pc, compared to 15pc – with gay and bisexual males in particular disclosing almost twice the levels of rape of heterosexual males, at 63pc compared to 34pc.

The report found that nearly half (47pc) of lesbian, gay or bisexual survivors waited over 10 years to report the abuse, compared with 21pc of heterosexual survivors who took the same length of time to report.

A quarter of LGB survivors first disclosed the abuse to a friend, compared to 12pc of heterosexual survivors, while the number of those disclosing to family members (28pc) was significantly less than their heterosexual counterparts (39pc).

It also said that all lesbian and bisexual survivors who became pregnant as a result of rape terminated the pregnancy.

RCNI noted that although transgender survivors were also using the services in 2013, they were not included in the statistical analysis as the numbers were too low to safely do so.

“Notwithstanding, this is a report informed by the transgender users of RCC services and pertinent to transgender people and all those concerned with LGBT rights,” it said.

The report, titled ‘Finding A Safe Place: LGBT Survivors of Sexual Violence and Disclosure in Rape Crisis Centres’, was launched by Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone in coordination with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) and Gay Switchboard Ireland.

Ms Zappone told RTE Radio One's News at One that she didn't find the results of the survey surprising.

"It demonstrates the fear, the hurt and the isolation felt by LGBT people who are survivors of rape and sexual assault, that’s what’s really made clear in this report," she said.

"My primary message today is that really no one should fear reporting rape or sexual violence, people are there to offer you support and that to take that step, to go into one of those RCNI centres is really the first important step to start that healing journey."

Speaking about the report, Clíona Saidléar, head of RCNI, said: “Worryingly, LGBT survivors can take up to twice as long to report the crime compared with their straight counterparts.

“They also rely much more on friends and partners and less on parents and family than straight people do.

“These two findings suggest the potential isolation and the added difficulties survivors who are also LGBT face in reaching out and seeking support.”

She added that the findings “should act as a catalyst for action to policy makers, to service providers and to community leaders to transform responses towards creating greater safety for LGBT survivors”.

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