The American Center For Disease Control (CDC) conducted it’s first nationwide study attempting to determine domestic abuse rates in the United States. The study found that a staggering 35% of straight women had experienced sexual assault, physical assault or stalking by a partner at some point in their lives. These numbers were even higher, however, for lesbian and bisexual identified women. 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women had experienced one of the three in their lifetime. That’s well over half of all the bisexual identified women surveyed reporting rape, violence or stalking by their partner at some point in their life and almost half of all lesbian women. The study surveyed 9,709 women, 96.5% of whom identified as straight, 2.2% as bisexual and 1.3% as lesbian.
Bisexual women were also the most likely to have been raped by anyone, not only their partner, with 46.1% of them having experienced rape at some point. This is an enormous number compared to the 13.1% of lesbian and 14.7% of straight women who reported having been raped. Most of the domestic violence committed against bisexual women was done so by their male partners and bisexual women reported much higher rates of after effects such as missing work or post traumatic stress symptoms than their lesbian and straight peers.
Buzzfeed reports that, “Mikel Walters, a behavioral scientist for the CDC, says the study didn’t examine the reasons why lesbian and bisexual women might experience especially high rates of violence. “Hopefully this research will spur more research” into causes, she said.”
A 2011 study found that bisexual women were at greater risk of depression and anxiety than women who were straight or gay, a result the study author attributed to stigma against bisexuality. “There tends to be this expectation or standard that a person picks one sexual identity and sticks with it. I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about bisexuals,” the author told Huffington Post UK.
Read our previous The “Oh!” Face article about bisexual stigma here. I genuinely think that bisexual stigma is a very major problem that keeps, perhaps, large numbers of people from fully accepting their sexuality because of fear of this stigmatization. Bisexuality is not even considered a true sexual orientation by some and this belief disables certain people from feeling safe in expressing the full spectrum of their sexuality. These statistics make me upset not only because of how many bisexual women have been assaulted but because of just how many women in our society have been assaulted. If these numbers were true of, say, school aged children, I can’t imagine what the response would be. But our society pretty much accepts that more than one third of all women are going to experience some form of assault in their lives. That to me is completely unacceptable.