Today: Jul 23, 2024

Raising awareness against sexual violence in April

Simone Virzi, Staff Writer:
Sexual violence is a topic people hear about every day, but many times it only addresses heterosexual couples, said Bethany Hamilton, who works at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.
“Homosexuals experience the same amount of violence, if not more. But people don’t stop to talk about the violence [amongst homosexuals],” said Hamilton, the guest speaker at Behind Closed Doors. “People of color walk around in a racist society; gays walk around in a homophobic society.”
A few years ago, Hamilton said a female was attacked in California by four perpetrators. The only reason they went after her was because she had a rainbow sticker on her car. Even though the incident happened across the country, she said it could make people think twice about having a simple sticker on their car.
Signs to look for to determine if a person has been sexually assaulted include bleeding, ripped clothing, and bite marks, said Hamilton.
When many people can close their eyes and picture a pedophile, she said they often think of a white, middle-aged man who wears glasses and drives a van. However, that is because the media often depicts this image which is not always accurate.
Hamilton said shows like “24” and “Law and Order” also use stereotypical scenarios of violence. The episode may depict an abuser who is much larger than the victim, or an abuser with a substance abuse problem.
Another false assumption is that sexual violence only takes place in parks, alleys, or dark places, Hamilton said.
“One in four incidents of assault of gays happens in the house,” she said.
In a heterosexual relationship, many times people will assume the male is the abuser. However, Hamilton said people should never assume because women as well as men can be abusers.
Connecticut has the second highest duel rate, in which police officers will arrest both people in the relationship if they are called for domestic dispute, Hamilton said.
“Cops show up and have no idea what to do,” she said. “They usually go for a male in a heterosexual relationship, but don’t know what to do for a gay couple.”
Hamilton said many times the police are acting with personal biases against homosexuals.
The battered women’s shelter was started by lesbians. However, today lesbians are excluded by the service, she said.
Close to 50 percent of young people who are homeless live on the street as a direct result of their gender identities, said Hamilton.
“Queer folks prefer to receive services from other queer folks, or they seek help from people closest to them, like accepting friends and relatives,” said Hamilton. “But the problem is whether or not they can really help because they are not professional.”
The Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services offers a 24-hour toll free confidential hotline, which offers guidance to victims. Hamilton said the helpline number is 888-999-5545.
“The presentation highlighted how unrecognized the violence is [in the homosexual community,]” said Jessica Santora, a member of LGBT Prism.
Melissa Richard, the co-president of HOPE, helped plan the Behind Closed Doors event.
“April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” she said. “Queer violence isn’t as represented as it should be.”

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