Today, marking the start of Pride Month we are reminded that while sexual violence spares no one, some are more targeted than others just for who they are. There is no set of characteristics, privilege or even behaviours that will inoculate someone from being targeted and victimized. But people are rarely victimized randomly. What the Rape Crisis approach has always understood is that rape and sexual violence is about power and by that we mean it’s about our culture and society, hierarchy, discipline and punishment, particularly punishment for transgression (however defined). Difference, breaking rank, challenging norms and traditions, even when they are not choices just facts, has always meant a higher risk of being targeted for sexual violence. This means women, children, people with disabilities, minoritized people and gender non-conforming people are particularly targeted. This is why we especially want to mark Pride Month.
In our report ‘Finding a Safe Place’ based on LGBT survivors using 15 rape crisis centres in 2013, we sought to give a voice to LGBT survivors. One of the key findings was the difference between LGBT peoples’ support structures and safety nets compared to the rest of the population, with LGBT+ people being alone with their experience of sexual violence longer and then relying more on friends than on family for disclosure and support than the general population. We hope much has changed since 2013 but we still need to engage in conversations towards prevention and better responses.
We need to have a conversation around sexual violence and the LGBT community that encompasses vulnerabilities that are sometimes universal, sometimes targeted at LGBT people because they are LGBT, or sometimes involving sexual violence between LGBT people.
Rape crisis centres work continuously to be safe spaces for LGBT and all survivors. The RCC fundamental model of practice is necessarily inclusive to meet survivors where they are, to journey beside them and support them in ways that empower. We continue to strive and to evolve, to ensure that RCCs are safe spaces for LGBT+ people.
All survivors and their needs are at the very heart of what we do. Our core principle is that dignity, respect and recovery for survivors are always at the centre of our approach. RCNI believe in the fundamental dignity and worth of all human beings.
We believe working to make our society safer for LGBT people is an urgent task and an end in itself; moreover, it serves to make a better world for everyone. RCNI continues to commit ourselves to being part of this conversation. We continue to listen to and be informed by the many LGBT survivors who put their trust in their local Rape Crisis Centre at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives. We are committed to an evidence informed approach to achieving our goals of providing best practice responses and social change which protects the human rights of survivors and prevents further victimisation.