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Sexual assault against marginalised groups

GOV.UK defines marginalised groups as ethnic minorities, women and girls, people with physical and mental disabilities, and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) people. Marginalised groups may be less inclined to report sexual assault because of their arguable oppression in society, but also in the justice system.

Racist stereotypes of ethnic minority victims of sexual assault may stop them from coming forward and reporting sexual assault. Racism in society can make it more difficult for an individual to speak out or report their sexual assault. There may be a concern from the individual of the reinforcement of negative stereotypes and labelling associated with ethnic minority groups. Also, there may be a concern for the support they receive from professionals. There is a risk that when a sexual assault is reported, the victim may be re-traumatised by their assault, but also by the violence ethnic minority groups have experienced from the criminal justice system itself, which can be argued treats victims like suspects.

Sexual assault of people with disabilities also often goes unreported. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) “people with disabilities are victimised by crime at higher rates than the rest of the population”. People with disabilities face challenges and have different needs, which can put them at a high risk of sexual abuse. People with disabilities may not be able to access support services available to them and may likely to be taken less seriously when they report sexual abuse. The role of consent is crucial when engaging in sexual activity, but when someone has a disability, it might be more difficult for an individual to give consent and a perpetrator can take advantage of this. A person with a disability may have not been educated about consent, that individuals without disabilities receive, which is another reason why sexual violence can go unreported.

People who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ communities also face different and additional challenges when reporting sexual violence. An LGBTQ victim of sexual violence may worry that they won’t be believed, which also might make them wonder if it was their fault, when it wasn’t. It can also be difficult for an individual to disclose their sexual assault, if they haven’t come out yet, which can make a person feel alone and worry others may judge, if they tell them. This might also lead to victims finding it difficult to find support, if a group doesn’t affirm their gender identity or sexual orientation, which can lead to the disbelief that sexual violence affects LGBTQ people.

Sexual assault and violence affect marginalised groups in different ways. Each group will face different challenges and difficulties when it comes to reporting sexual assault or violence. But It’s important to know that there is support and that they are believed.

Support services:

· The Survivors Trust Helpline: 0808 801 0818

· Rape Crisis

· Victim Support Support line: 0845 30 30 900

· NHS Direct Helpline: 111

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