Charity launches UK’s first LGBTQ+ rape and sexual assault helpline

A woman holding a sign with 'protect your daughters' crossed out, and 'educate your son' written underneath

An LGBTQ+ charity has launched the UK’s first ever rape and sexual assault helpline dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ victims and survivors. 

The helpline has been established by anti-abuse charity Galop and was launched ahead of Sexual Violence Awareness Week, which runs from 6 and 12 February. 

Research from Galop – conducted by YouGov – shows more than half (53 per cent) of LGBTQ+ people in the UK have been subjected to sexual violence in their lives. 

Further research shows that more than half of LGBTQ+ sexual violence survivors surveyed felt that their assault was wholly, or in part, linked to or motivated by their LGBTQ+ identity.   

The helpline for victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault was created as the charity uncovered that people who sought support from mainstream services often had poor experiences, with just 22 per cent of people being satisfied with their experience reporting what happened to them. 

One LGBTQ+ survivor of sexual violence told Galop about their experience of accessing mainstream support: “After the judgmental response I never went back and I haven’t accessed any support since then.” 

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Another LGBT+ survivor said: “There were a few times I felt like I was speaking a foreign language and had to explain some really basic stuff.” 

The charity also said LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual assault disclosed to them feeling like their experiences were linked to their LGBT+ identity, with one saying: “I was raped and beaten as a teenager and he verbally abused me through homosexual slurs and blamed my sexuality for his actions.”  

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Leni Morris, CEO of Galop, said: “The launch of the Rape and Sexual Abuse Helpline is a historic step forward in providing specialist support for our community. 

“We want LGBT+ victims and survivors to know that we’re here, we understand what you’re going through and help is available. 

“Any LGBT+ survivor calling us can be confident that their call will be answered by a fellow LGBT+ person, who is trained and experienced in working with survivors of abuse and violence. 

“Our community has gone too long without this kind of nationally available support – that changes today.” 

Actor, Stonewall founder and LGBTQ+ activist Lord Michael Cashman CBE, said: “Over the last decade, sexual abuse and the impact it can have on a person has received more awareness than ever before. 

“Yet, the queer community have largely been invisible in these conversations. With that in mind, the launch of a helpline run specifically for LGBT+ people is groundbreaking.”

Lord Cashman, whose character Colin Russell on Eastenders had the first gay mouth-to-mouth kiss on a British soap in 1989, continued: “I am personally reassured that any LGBT+ person facing this kind of abuse will now be able to access this much-needed support. 

“When you’ve been through something as traumatic as sexual violence, the help you receive should be centred not only around understanding what you’ve been through, but also a knowledge and compassion for your identity and all the aspects of yourself that make you who you are.”  

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The charity also runs three other national helplines: one for LGBT+ victims and survivors of domestic abuse, one for LGBTQ+ people who have experienced hate crime, and the other for victims and survivors of so-called conversion therapies and practices.  

Galop’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Helpline is available Monday – Thursday 10am – 8:30pm, and Friday 10am – 4:30pm. Contact the Helpline by phone (0800 999 5428) or via email [email protected].

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