I am a bisexual woman. I am also a survivor of physical and mental abuse from several former partners.
When I say "survived" I mean, survived. One of the men I dated actually tried to take my life. It was a long time ago, but I still struggle with the emotional scars left behind. I have survived multiple suicide attempts, the most recent one being less than a year ago.
Unfortunately, as the #MeToo movement has shown, I am not alone in being a survivor. In fact, there is an epidemic of violence, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault against bisexual women happening across the globe.
A United Nations' Human Rights Council report released in May outlines the harrowing statistics. Bi people are more at risk than gay and lesbian people to be the victims of these crimes. In fact, 61 percent of bisexual women have reported being raped, stalked, or experienced violence at the hands of her partner.
Sixty-one percent. Why is this not all over the media? Why isn't this being discussed on Twitter and other social media platforms? I'm sorry for dropping awful statistics on you, but I'm not done yet.
The truth is, bisexual people are more likely to be depressed and have extreme anxiety as well. A 2017 study conducted by The Journal of Sex Research found that bi people have higher rates of these mental health issues than their lesbian and gay peers. Sexual orientation-based discrimination, identity erasure, and lack of support were outlined as the key reasons for these discrepancies.
Over half of bi women are survivors of abuse. Over half. Almost half (46 percent) of the bisexual women surveyed are survivors of rape. That's near epidemic levels, and everyone is silent. Something needs to change.
Bisexual people are more anxious, depressed, and suicidal. Why in the world are people so silent on this? Is it a lack of awareness? Is it a lack of empathy? Either way; something has to be done.
I am writing this to give a voice to this crisis. The LGBTQ community needs to have more resources for bisexual people like me. More research should be done to try and figure out why tragedy keeps happening.
Here's what we do know. According to the U.N. report, violence and discrimination against queer people has three main roots in a society: anti-LGBTQ legislation, stigma (prejudice and/or criminalization), and "negation" — a position that either discrimination against a community doesn't exist, or in the cases of places like Chechnya or Iran, the false assertion that queer people don't exist at all.
Even though I have faced all of this hell as a bisexual woman, I have the privilege of being an American. In 72 countries, being openly LGBTQ is punishable by death. Yet in my own life, I have experienced negation — and not just from straight people. Gays and lesbians have doubted my identity. They have tried to erase me and the issues I face. It is this erasure that allows the cycle of violence and discrimination to continue.
Knowing that policy directly affects the lives of queer people is essential for change. Countries — and in the U.S., states, cities, and towns — can pass laws that acknowledge and protect us. They can also welcome refugees from areas of the world where being queer can cost them their lives.
But what can everyday citizens do to address this epidemic of violence against bi people? Spread awareness. Nothing can get fixed until people know that it's broken. Educate yourself and others.
Be an ally. Listen to your friends, family, peers, and other coworkers when they are trusting you with sensitive information. Let people know you are a safe person, a person they can trust.
If you or someone you know is in a situation of abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or online 24/7.
If you or someone you know has faced sexual assault, contact RAINN's National Sexual Assualt Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or online 24/7.
If you or someone you know struggles with suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or online, 24/7.
*This column was published anonymously to protect the identity of the writer.