The national helpline for lesbian, gay bisexual and trans people experiencing domestic violence has backed this year’s Reclaim the Night events.

Rallies and marches are taking place around the world, including in London, on November 22nd.

When Reclaim the Night marches were started in the 1970s, only 1 in 3 rapists were ever convicted; today that figure is 1 in 20.

Lesbian, bisexual and trans women are just as likely as heterosexual women to experience rape and sexual assault from strangers.

Broken Rainbow has called on all LGBT people to rally behind these causes, and show their support, and for women’s organisations everywhere to recognise LBT women’s place in the movement.

“All women have the right to use public space both in the daytime and after dark, and deserve to live free of fear of sexual harassment and assault, regardless of ethnicity or sexual orientation,” the group said.

“Crimes such as rape, robbery and domestic abuse affect all women, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“In fact, lesbian, bisexual and trans (LBT) women face many more barriers in accessing services. Lesbian and bisexual women often do not reach out for help because they believe there is no help out there for them.

“Specific services for lesbian and bisexual women are limited but they do exist.”

Research carried out in 2008 found that one in four of all lesbian and bisexual women have experienced domestic violence in a relationship.

Two thirds of those say the perpetrator was a woman.

Issues faced by LBT women include having to out themselves in order to access support services like GPs and hospitals or facing institutionalised homophobia (for example many police forces still do not have dedicated LGBT liaison officers) which can lead to lower reporting rates for LBT women.

Jo Barringer, Broken Rainbow’s Chair of Trustees, said:

“We know from the experiences shared with us via our telephone helpline that lesbian and bisexual women are as capable of being violent and abusive towards one another as any other part of society – this includes rape and physical assault.

“All over the country women live in fear of women, women who have promised to love and cherish them and who share the most intimate aspects of their life with them. Unfortunately this can include their anger, contempt and abuse.”

Broken Rainbow’s helpline runs, Monday 2-8pm, Wed 10-1, Thursday, 2-8pm: 08452 60 44 60

www.broken-rainbow.org.uk