Almost half of lesbian, gay, and bisexual survivors of sexual assault waited more than 10 years to report the abuse, according to research by the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI).
The finding comes from the first-ever national RCNI report on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) survivors of sexual violence attending Rape Crisis centres in Ireland.
The data comes from surveying LGBT survivors attending the 15 Rape Crisis centres around Ireland in 2013.
One of the most striking findings is the delayed reporting by LGBT survivors of rape.
Some 47% of LGB (lesbian, gay, and bisexual) survivors waited more than 10 years to report the abuse, compared with only 21% of heterosexual survivors who took the same length of time to report.
Another finding relates to the amount of sexual violence LGB survivors experienced in comparison to heterosexual survivors.
LGB survivors disclosed higher levels of multiple incidents of sexual violence than heterosexual survivors (26% compared to 15%).
In terms of gender, gay and bisexual males disclosed almost twice the levels of rape compared with heterosexual males (63% compared to 34%).
A total of 88 LGB survivors attended Rape Crisis centres in Ireland in 2013, and this amounted to 4% of the service’s users.
The other 96% of service users identified themselves as heterosexual.
Transgender survivors who used the services in 2013 were not included in the statistical analysis due to the numbers being too low to accurately do so.
One in four of LGB survivors first disclosed their attack to a friend compared to 12% of straight survivors, and 28% disclosed to parents or another family member against 39% of heterosexual survivors.
All female lesbian and gay survivors of abuse who became pregnant as a result of rape terminated the pregnancy.
Clíona Saidléar, head of RCNI, states that some of the findings point to the potential isolation of LGBT survivors of rape.
“Worryingly, LGBT survivors can take up to twice as long to report the crime compared with their straight counterparts,” she said. “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.
“This and other findings in this report 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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