Supporting LGBTQ+ Survivors
Reaching out to a helpline can be difficult for anyone, and we know that LGBTQ+ survivors can face additional barriers to support which can make reaching out that bit harder.
The Rape Crisis Scotland helpline supports survivors of all genders and sexualities. Every person that contacts our helpline, regardless of their background or identity, is met with specialised support tailored to their individual needs.
We're proud to be inclusive, and we want all survivors to know that our helpline is a safe space. We spoke with Annie and Rona, two Support Workers from our helpline team, to find out what they want LGBTQ+ survivors to know.
How do you create a safe space for LGBTQ+ survivors?
Annie: We don’t make assumptions about any survivors, and that includes assumptions about their gender and sexuality, the gender of their partner and the nature of the assault. We let survivors lead and we just ask for as much information as we need to be able to support them.
Rona: We always follow a survivor’s lead on language and if somebody mentions their gender, we will ask them if they would feel comfortable sharing their pronouns, and that can help. It seems like a tiny thing but it can be huge, and it can really create that safe space just by asking that. I definitely have had the experience of asking someone their pronouns and you can almost feel the comfort that we are meeting them where they’re at.
Annie: We also have training in supporting LGBTQ+ survivors, so we have an understanding of the specific barriers that can come up and we have sensitivity to that.
Annie: Sexual violence can impact all areas of your life, and survivors will contact us to discuss how it has affected their relationships, sex life or sexuality. The helpline is a safe space to talk about sexuality and we’re trained to talk about it.
What sort of barriers to support do LGBTQ+ survivors face and how can the helpline team support them?
Annie: There are quite firm narratives about what rape and sexual assault look like, and about who is a victim and who is a perpetrator. This is the case for all survivors but for LGBTQ+ survivors, their experience is often even less visible.
Rona: This means that survivors are sometimes concerned that we won’t understand their experiences or the dynamic of their relationships. It’s quite powerful when they realise that there is a space for them here, and we are very much sitting in that space alongside them, holding it and supporting them.
Annie: Certain support services might not feel as accessible, there might be some worries around that and we can talk through those concerns. We have a list of other support services that support male survivors and others that support non-binary survivors, so we can help to make sure you find the right support for you, even if it’s not your local Rape Crisis Centre. We can also signpost to specialist LGBTQ+ services, if you're looking for additional support.
What do you want LGBTQ+ survivors to know?
Annie: You are not alone. Your experience and your reaction to it is just as valid as anyone else’s.
Rona: The service is yours, we are here to listen and support. If you are wondering, can I be supported here? The answer will always be yes.
Our helpline is open to everyone aged 13+ affected by sexual violence. The helpline team offer confidential short-term, crisis and initial support by phone, email, webchat and text.
We're here if you want to talk, every night from 5pm - midnight.
Text: 07537 410 027 [our text number will display on your bill]
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