Why Representation Matters
As Kamala Harris took the oath to become Vice President of the United States, little girls across the country watched with wide eyes- especially those who were African American and South Asian. It was another moment in American history that showed the power of representation.
Many survivors of sexual assault do not have that representation, though. Most of the survivors we hear about are cisgendered women who are straight, able-bodied, and white. We do not hear much about survivors who are cisgendered men, survivors who are LGTBQ+, survivors with disabilities, or survivors of color.
Of men, RAINN says that "1 in 33 American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime."
For members of the LGBTQ+ community, the Human Rights Campaign says that:
"44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of straight women.
26 percent of gay men and 37 percent of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 29 percent of straight men.
46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of straight women and 13 percent of lesbians.
22 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of straight women.
40 percent of gay men and 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21 percent of straight men."
For people with disabilities, now.org says:
"According to Human Rights Watch, when compared to able-bodied women, women with disabilities are three times as likely to be physically abused or assaulted.
According to the University of Michigan, it is estimated that as many as 40% of women with disabilities experience sexual assault or physical violence in their lifetimes and that more than 90% of all people with developmental disabilities will experience sexual assault.
According to the Justice Department data on sex crimes, people with intellectual disabilities — women and men — are the victims of sexual assault at rates more than seven times than those for people without disabilities."
For people of color, End Rape On Campus says that:
African American Women
"For every Black woman that reports her rape, at least 15 Black women do not report.
Approximately 60% of Black girls experience sexual abuse by age 18.
Black women students in various academic settings who reported experiencing rape: 16.5% in a high school sample and 36% in a college sample.
Approximately 7.9% of Latinas will be raped by a spouse, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend during their lifetime.
Married Latinas are less likely than other women to immediately define their experiences of forced sex as rape and terminate their relationships; some view sex as a marital obligation.
Asian/Pacific Islander Women
According to a compilation of studies, between 21-55% of Asian women report experiencing intimate physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
API women tend to report lower rates of rape and other forms of sexual violence than do people of color from other racial backgrounds.
According to a study, Filipina women who were born in the US or immigrated before adolescence were more likely to experience physical and sexual violence (but not stalking) compared to Filipina women born outside the US or immigrated as adults.
In a 1995 study of Japanese immigrant and American women, 52% reported having experienced physical violence, and 29.9% experienced sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetime.
In a study of Indian and Pakistani women, Indian and Pakistani women born in the US or who had immigrated before adolescence were more likely to experience physical violence, sexual assault, and stalking compared to those born outside of US or immigrated post adolescence.
Native American Women
One study found that more than a quarter of American Indian and Alaskan Native women reported being raped.
About 9 in 10 Native/American Indian victims of rape or sexual assault were estimated to have had assailants who were of a different race.
92% of Native/American Indian girls who have had intercourse reported having been forced against their will to have sex.
44% of Indian Health Service emergency rooms reported not having an accessible protocol, or trained personnel in place for sexual assault.
According to a 2010 study, US attorneys declined to prosecute 67% of sexual abuse, homicide, and other violent crimes against Native women."
When someone who looks like you accomplishes something, like healing from a sexual assault, it helps you to believe that you can accomplish that something, too. That is why my mother and I started stopsexualassault.org, that is why HUMAN features music from different cultures, and that is why we will start highlighting survivors from different genders, sexualities, abilities, skin colors, ethnicities, and more.