Underserved Populations

I am a Male Survivor

In our society, sexual assault is seen predominantly as a crime against women, but it is common for men to experience sexual violence as well. However, due to stereotypes of masculinity being tied to sex, it may be difficult for you as a man to separate the sex act from the crime.

You have survived a violent assault. Sexual assault is traumatic for all victims, regardless of gender, and similar reactions are shared by both male and female victims. You may feel rage, shame, guilt, powerlessness, helplessness, concern regarding your safety, and even symptoms of physical illness. As a man who has experienced sexual violence, you may have to deal with some special considerations. These can include doubts about your sexuality or masculinity, and a reluctance to be examined by appropriate medical personnel. You may hesitate to report the assault to law enforcement for fear of ridicule or fear that they won't believe you. That same fear and pain can stop you from sharing your trauma with friends and loved ones, and can also stop you from successfully contacting support services.

This applies to you even if you experienced the assault at a young age and only now realize you need help. You need to know that strong or weak; outgoing or withdrawn; gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender; old or young; whatever your physical appearance, you have done nothing to justify this attack. At no point, and under no circumstance, does anyone have the right to violate or control another's body. Help and healing are available to you in the form of support services, crisis lines, crisis intervention, contacting law enforcement, support groups for male survivors, and counseling. Feeling responsible is a normal reaction to sexual assault; however, you are never at fault for sexual assault, and you did nothing to deserve this.

For Assistance or Resources:

  • Speak to a trusted faculty member for help
  • Contact Safe Place at CSU, Chico on 633 Brice Avenue. call (530) 898-3030 or email safeplace@csuchico.edu
  • If you feel more comfortable, ask for a male doctor or nurse at the Student Health Center. If you want to schedule an appointment, call (530) 898-5241.
  • Counseling and Wellness Center  (530) 898-6345
  •  Rape Crisis Intervention (530) 342-7273

I am an LGBTQ Survivor

Anyone can be sexually assaulted, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals. Seeking to feel dominant or expressing hatred, some people specifically target sexual minorities for sexual violence in order to "teach them a lesson" or "show them what they really need." Also, sexual minorities may be assaulted by a partner or significant other in a close relationship.

If you have experienced this kind of sexual violence, whatever the circumstances, you may have fears and concerns specifically related your sexuality, in addition to those which other survivors face. These concerns are not restricted to the specifics of the assault, but may also include how you may be treated by the health care and criminal justice systems, your friends, family, and your partner. The fear of potential disclosure to family, friends, or employers may be very stressful. Additionally, there may be the fear that health care providers will not be able to see past your sexuality to the abuse that has taken place, and that you might not be taken seriously.

For a woman who has rarely or never experienced heterosexual intercourse, forcible penetration may be particularly frightening or painful. The possibility of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases may be concerns you aren't used to thinking about. It's also possible that you may lose interest in sexual activity or possibly question your sexual orientation after an assault. Even women who feel very comfortable and secure with their sexual orientation may have feelings of vulnerability, guilt, or self-blame.

It may be helpful for you to know that you will not be required to disclose your sexual orientation to anyone, unless you choose to do so–even in the emergency room. Try to keep in mind that the emergency room staff must ask questions which presume that you are heterosexual. They need to know if you have had recent voluntary sexual intercourse and use birth control, in order to evaluate your medical needs. If you feel you have been treated badly, or staff reacts uncomfortably to your answers, let the sexual assault center know. Regardless of how you feel about your sexuality – still questioning, closeted, or totally "out" – you are entitled to the same sensitive treatment heterosexual men and women should receive.

Important Things to Consider

  • If you suspect, or know that you were assaulted because of your sexual orientation or identity, be sure to inform someone of those concerns.
  • Your partner will have his or her own set of reactions and feelings about your assault, and those feelings may be intensified if he or she is a survivor as well.
  • You have the right to services that are nonjudgmental and to surround yourself with those who will be emotionally supportive to you throughout the healing process.

For Assistance and Resources Contact:

I Am an Asian/Asian-American/Pacific Islander Survivor

There is no typical Asian response to sexual assault because there is no such thing as "typically Asian." People from Asia or of Asian ancestry are a very diverse group, ranging from members of the Far-eastern cultures of Japan, Korea, or China, to the various Southeast Asian groups – Mainland and Insular – as well as people from the vastly diverse South Asian and Middle Eastern areas.

If you are Asian-American, it is likely that your traditional cultural background has been blended to varying degrees with aspects of American culture. In many Asian cultures, virginity in women prior to marriage is prized and valued. As a woman or a man, if you have been sexually assaulted or raped, you may experience intense feelings of shame. You may also fear that you and your family will be dishonored if the assault is revealed. However, it is possible to receive care while maintaining your anonymity. You have control over what course of action is taken after the assault and your needs can remain secret from family members.

Additionally, some Asian cultures avoid the subject of sexuality as taboo. To even talk about it is disgraceful, which makes it more difficult and upsetting to share the experience of a sexual assault.

However, mental health specialists are trained to take cultural concepts into consideration when caring for you, and have found it helpful for survivors to eventually share the experience in detail. Opening up to a qualified professional can be a supportive, non-judgmental, and rewarding experience, even though it may sound difficult, embarrassing, or disgraceful. Remember, your caregiver will proceed at a pace that is comfortable for you, and you do not have to talk about anything that is too uncomfortable. Like all other survivors, if necessary, you have the right to ask for a an interpreter during interviews with the police, legal proceedings, or counseling sessions.

For Assistance and Resources Contact:

I am a Black or African-American Survivor

It is a myth that sexual assault only happens to certain type of people. Just like many others who have been assaulted, you may feel anxious, depressed, angry, or guilty. All of these feelings are normal. But due to different cultural beliefs and expectations, you may have some feelings or thoughts that are unique to you as a black or African-American survivor. You may have been taught as a child that black or African-American women and men are strong and should bear any burden alone without complaining. You may feel that you should keep your sexual assault or rape a secret. The truth is that you have been violated, and you are in pain.

It is okay to talk to someone about what has happened, and it is okay to get help. As a black or African-American survivor, you may feel that you cannot trust anyone or that the legal system and mental health profession will not support or understand you. You may also be afraid to press charges, especially if your assailant was also black as you may be afraid that it will perpetuate existing negative stereotypes about black men or women. It may be difficult for you to seek help if you feel that it would be at the expense of other members in your cultural community.

Remember, you can be victimized in three ways: by the assault itself; the way in which the assault is dealt with (i.e., who is told, their reactions); and by your own self-perception. Empower yourself by finding a trustworthy individual to talk to.

For Assistance and Resources Contact:

I am a Latin/Latin American Survivor

Although the term "Latino/Latina" incorporates many different cultures – from Mexican and Caribbean to Central and South American – there are some shared experiences among them. In Latino culture, women are often given restrictive gender roles that require submission to men. Also, some Latinas experience a lack of encouragement in educational goals and independence. On the other hand, men are expected to be successful at any cost, which can put undue pressure upon them.

As a Latina/Latino, you may have learned that men are not expected to take responsibility for their sexual behavior. Because of the obstacles created by this sexual hierarchy, as a Latina/Latino survivor you may have a very hard time reporting your sexual assault. You may believe that the assault was your fault, that you have been "damaged," that you will shame your family, and you may fear that your family will affirm those feelings. You may fear blame and accusation from others. Like all other survivors, if necessary, you have the right to ask for a an interpreter during interviews with the police, legal proceedings, or counseling sessions.

For Assistance and Resources Contact:

I am a Native American Survivor

For a Native American victim of sexual assault, the road to recovery can be a difficult one. This can be due, in part, to cultural barriers, high levels of mistrust of law enforcement and the justice system, and a fear of alienation by family. Native American women experience some of the highest rates of violence of any group in the United States. According to the Department of Justice, “Native American women suffer violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average,” and according to the American Indian Women’s Chemical Health Project, “three-fourths of Native American women have experienced some type of sexual assault in their lives.” An overwhelming majority of sexual assaults on native persons are perpetrated by non-native individuals, which, historically, has made prosecution challenging, as tribal law enforcement has not had the ability to arrest non-natives on tribal land. This fact alone has kept many victims from coming forward and reporting the crime.

Over the years, services for Native American victims have improved and today many resources are available, both on and off tribal lands.

For Assistance and Resources Contact:

I am a Survivor with a Disability

Many people are not aware that sexual assaults against people with physical, visual, mental, or emotional disabilities are common. The misconception abounds that people who use wheelchairs or who may be mentally disabled have no sexual feelings or even concern about such matters; therefore, it is okay to take advantage of them.

Frequently, the assailant is known to the victim, and can even be in the role of caretaker. As a victim of sexual violence, you may have experienced further disability due to the assault. It's important for you to know that no one has the right to assault you. You might feel powerless to do something about what has or is happening, because this person has control of your care, even of your finances. Regardless of that person's role in your life, you still have the right to file a complaint and seek redress.

You may find, as you may have prior to your assault, that people who are supposed to be "helping" you treat you as though you are helpless or unable to understand what happened. They may ignore your needs, acting as though they know what is best for you.

All these ideas are misconceptions about people with disabilities, not facts. You have the right to be treated with the same care and concern that able-bodied survivors do. It is important to know that there are services out there, such as the Victim Witness Program, which can assist you if you have been assaulted.

The assault may make you feel very vulnerable. Emotional support and other kinds of assistance may be obtained from local agencies which advocate for persons with disabilities. It might be helpful to ask the agency if there is a staff member with experience in working with sexual assault issues for those with disabilities. Because this is rarely the case, you may decide to work with two advocates: a sexual assault companion and a disabilities advocate.

You may also want to learn self-defense, regardless of your disability. There are self-defense techniques, including assertiveness and physical techniques modified to your needs, which you may find empowering.

For Assistance and Resources Contact:

I am a Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Survivor

Survivors who are deaf or hard-of-hearing face very different barriers than those with other disabilities. The most significant barrier is communication accessibility. You may have experienced the tendency of other people to ignore you because they do not know what you need.

The hearing world may feel very separate from your own; you may have had negative experiences in the past with doctors, police, or counselors, or crisis lines which claim to be TTY-accessible but fall short of your needs. Because so much of modern knowledge comes from the spoken word, whether through the media or casual conversation, information about rape, sexual abuse, battery and harassment has only recently been discussed in the deaf community. If you are not part of this community, you may still feel uninformed about these issues.

Services are becoming more readily available to address the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing survivors such as deaf advocates and hotline counselors. If you are unaware of your rights as a deaf or hard-of-hearing survivor, that information is available. Police, hospitals, and attorneys are required by law to provide qualified sign-language interpreters and other auxiliary aids as needed. You have the right to request a qualified sign-language or oral interpreter.

For Assistance and Resources Contact:

I am a Survivor Who is Not a U.S. Citizen

There is some important information for you to know if you are not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States

  • You are entitled to receive treatment for the medical injuries that you may have received during a sexual assault.
  • The medical information you give to the health care provider is confidential. It will not be released to anyone, including a law enforcement officer, without your permission.
  • If your partner is abusing you, you may be able to receive protection from deportation, and even apply for permanent residency without your partner's sponsorship under the Violence Against Women Act. Speak to an immigration attorney for further information.

There are some things you need to know right away:

  • If you are an undocumented worker, you may be fearful of contact with the police, even though they are not required to report you to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • You have the right to bring your assailant to trial, regardless of whether or not you are a US citizen. This is true even if the attacker was your spouse. It is possible for you to go to the local court and file a warrant against your assailant. Ask an attorney to provide an interpreter for you if you do not feel comfortable communicating in English.

For Assistance and Resources Contact: