Three out of five bisexual women experience some type of sexual violence. Nearly half will be raped at least once during their lifetime. The statistics coming from the Centers for Disease Control are staggering. They’re frightening. They’re unacceptable.
Right now bisexual women are the number one target of domestic violence in the world. The second largest target? Bisexual men.
It’s not just strangers attacking them. They are also at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted by a domestic partner.
“Research has shown that bisexual women survivors of violence felt that their abusive partners were threatened by their sexuality and used it as a reason for perpetuating violence,” Heron Greenesmith, an attorney at Senior Policy Analyst for the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), said. “Many bisexual women survivors reported going ‘back into the closet’ as a survival mechanism.”
MAP is an independent think tank that focuses on queer issues. Their research shows most people within the queer community identify as bisexual – 52 percent. If bisexuals are the majority, why are they also the most vulnerable? Several studies indicate they’re targeted by both sides: straight people and people within their own community.
Between a Gay and a Straight Place: Bisexual Individuals’ Experiences with Monosexism, a study conducted by professors from the Universities of Massachusetts and Madison-Wisconsin found bisexuals report experiencing an alarming amount of biphobia from gays and lesbians. It states, “bisexual individuals reported significantly more discrimination from the heterosexual community in comparison to the gay or lesbian community”.
This may be because perpetrators can’t identify with being attracted to more than one gender. Lola Davidson is a queer blogger who asked her bisexual readers to share their stories. She found the results disturbing.
“They’ve been beaten, punched, had bricks thrown at them, disowned, stalked, raped, harassed, and mentally and physically abused,” she said. The attackers were both homosexual and heterosexual.
“The interesting thing is that almost all these survivors said they felt that people in their lives would have been okay with their orientation if they were either gay or straight, but they weren’t okay with them being bisexual because they needed to ‘pick a side’.”
The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey provides some of the most significant data to date regarding sexual violence. Their largest finding: bisexuals experience the highest level of abuse in virtually all types of sexual violence. Among rape victims, bisexual women experience rape earlier in life — usually between the ages of 11 and 24. Of those women raped, nearly half were raped between the ages of 11 and 17. The rate of stalking bisexual women is more than double that of heterosexual women. One in three to be exact.
“We know that bisexual people face isolation and a lack of community and family support,” Greenesmith said. “These factors may combine to leave bisexual people at much higher risk for domestic violence.” In order to combat the high levels of violence she said, “communities, schools, agencies, and organizations need to provide bisexual-specific prevention and recovery services.”
The CDC agrees. They recommend more resources for sexual violence victims within the queer community. Right now they are seriously lacking. There are also calls for more education among healthcare professionals. Perhaps most importantly, people need to be more educated about bisexuality and remove the stigmas attached. Going back “into the closet” to avoid abuse is not the answer for our community’s largest group.