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Faith Community Advocacy to Prevent/End Sexual Assault Violence Especially Its Impact on the LGBTQ Community

[This bulletin is being reposted with permission from Rainbow Community Cares (RCCares) – © 2013]. For more information, see

Faith Community Advocacy to Prevent/End Sexual Assault Violence Especially Its Impact on the LGBTQ Community


What is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? April has been set aside as the month when, for the past 13 years, public attention is drawn to raise awareness about sexual assault. This form of violence occurs in all communities. People’s health and well being are threatened by this violence in all groups of people. Community caring and loving support needs to be offered to all survivors of sexual assault. Mainstream providers are prepared to support and encourage the recovery process for heterosexual survivors. However, LGBTQ survivors face significant barriers in their work to heal. The harm done to the lives of survivors can be much harder to address in marginalized communities.

What is Sexual Assault? Sexual assault is an act of violence in which one person engages in a sexual act that includes another person without their consent. Sexual assault can be committed by intimate partners, family members, acquaintances and strangers. The power and control one person exerts over another may be through verbal intimidation, manipulation or physical force, and can occur with other forms of violence.

Why Should Communities of Faith Care? Faith communities exist to nurture spiritual connection and relationships of loving kindness in respect for the human dignity of all people. But due to negative messages spread by some faith leaders and their community members, LGBTQ people face stigmatization and denial of equal access to human services. The impact of that stigma too often severely limits support from friends and families, and connection with other community programs causing isolation. Faith communities can help bring people closer together. Self esteem and feelings of self worth are diminished by negative messages, especially when they are met with silence by allied faith communities. Negative messages can be overcome by positive images supported by faith communities, affirming recognition of LGBTQ people, embracing LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault. All mutually loving relationships are to be honored and nurtured by faith communities.

What can you do? If you hear or see something, say something. Listen to the concerns that are shared by your family, friends, and faith community members. Get involved. Silence can be misconstrued as agreement. Speak and act in support of the human dignity and respect.

Learn more about the concerns, issues and advocacy for LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault in the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs 2012 report on hate violence.  Create and post a list of resources available in your local community that provides services to LGBTQ survivors.

Join advocacy efforts for positive change in laws and policies. Lack of employment protections for some makes it legal to fire a LGBTQ person. Law enforcement response has a history of lack of support, and LGBTQ survivors may face further harassment and criminalization. Local law enforcement and ICE collaboration has further endangered LGBTQ undocumented immigrants.

Progress is being made, some community organizations are willing to work in support of LGBTQ survivors. Chose to be a part of the progress to advocate for acceptance and affirmation of all people’s gender identity and sexual orientation. Choose loving kindness.

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