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LETTER: Sexual violence in LGBTQ+ community

In 2015 Nova Scotia introduced Breaking The Silence: A Coordinated Response to Sexual Violence.

The first of its kind in the province, this response recognizes that sexual violence is both a complex social issue and a violation of human rights. Yet many people remain unaware of what sexual violence actually means and the role that it plays in the systemic oppression of particular groups people, including those who are LGBTQ+.

In short, sexual violence refers to actions that are sexual in nature and committed without freely given consent, and is rooted in the ability to exercise power and control. For decades now studies have shown that the LGBTQ+ community experiences disproportionately high rates of sexual violence. It has also become clear that LGBTQ+ people are being specifically targeted for sexual violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Targeting individuals in this manner constitutes a hate crime and violently oppresses those who are victimized. Sexual violence in the LGBTQ+ community can also occur within the context of intimate relationships. Some studies have found that almost half of respondents (gay men, lesbian women, and transgender individuals) have been forced to have sex by an intimate partner.

The impact of sexual violence on the LGBTQ+ community is further compounded by the lack of inclusive services for victims. Rather, when attempting to access services after experiencing sexual violence, many LGBTQ+ survivors may face homophobia or transphobia, along with the risk of being “outed,” being re-traumatized, or having their experience minimized.

The MORPH (Mapping our Road to Power and Healing) initiative, which is funded through Breaking the Silence, aims to address at least some of these issues in Pictou County. On Friday, June 30, MORPH is offering an information session for LGBTQ+ sexual violence survivors at NSCC Pictou Campus. For more information please contact MORPH Navigator Lauren Delaney at or at (902) 755-4647.

Lauren Delaney

MORPH Navigator

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