LGBTQ+ child sexual abuse survivors are being blamed for their own abuse, harrowing study finds

LGBTQ+ people were blamed for their own abuse.

Some LGBTQ+ survivors of child sexual abuse were later told their sexuality or gender identity was the direct result of their abuse, a damning new report has found.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its report on LGBTQ+ survivors on Tuesday (24 May), which revealed that queer people are often blamed for their own abuse.

Some survivors were told they had brought the abuse upon themselves, and most LGBTQ+ victims told the inquiry that they struggled to understand their own sexuality or gender identity because of the abuse.

The result is that many LGBTQ+ survivors of child sexual abuse have grown up with a damaged sense of their own identity.

The IICSA’s report found that LGBTQ+ children face “specific challenges” that make them “more vulnerable” to child sexual abuse. It also uncovered additional barriers facing queer children in accessing support and forming adult relationships.

‘Victim blaming’ leaves child sexual abuse survivors feeling ‘unheard’

Some LGBTQ+ survivors said the myths and stereotypes about queer people in society made it even more difficult for them to come to terms with their abuse and their identity.

“Stigma and myths have been very prominent,” one survivor said in the report. “There is far too much emphasis on the survivor and victim blaming and little understanding of LGBTQ+ lived experiences. This leaves the survivor feeling unheard and disheartened which makes seeking help much harder.”

The IICSA report also found that some LGBTQ+ people were told they were queer because of the gender of their abuser, a move that robbed them of the chance to define their own identities.

As a younger person I was told the abuse was a result of being homosexual.

Many of the queer men interviewed for the report said they had been accused of “inviting” sexual abuse as children because they showed “an interest in other men by being stereotypically ‘effeminate'”.

One survivor said: “I’m in my late 50s… My generation grew up being told to keep quiet. As a younger person I was told the abuse was a result of being homosexual along with all the negative language being used all the time.”

The report ultimately found that heteronormative and cisnormative culture continues to adversely affect LGBTQ+ child sexual abuse survivors.

Older LGBTQ+ people and those from religious or cultural backgrounds where queer people are not accepted were among the worst affected by child sexual abuse.

The IICSA’s report is based on interviews with 31 LGBTQ+ victims, as well as LGBTQ+ organisations that have supported survivors.