College campus sexual assault has garnered widespread attention over the past several years, and the issue has been further thrust into the spotlight with the recent sexual assault conviction of a Stanford University student.
While no group is immune to this type of victimization, a new study found bisexual women are the most vulnerable. Nearly 40 percent of bisexual females are victims of sexual assault after four years of college, compared to approximately 25 percent of heterosexual women. Gay and bisexual men are victims at about the same rate as straight women.
“To really understand the breadth and depth of this problem, it is critical to understand the victimology of sexual assault, and that it includes all students, not just heterosexual females,” said Mary-Ellen O’Toole, editor in chief of Violence and Gender, the journal that published the study.
“As difficult as it can be for any college student to come forward following a sexual assault because they are afraid, intimidated, or ashamed, it can be even more so for bisexual females and gay and bisexual males," O'Toole added.
The results of the study, conducted by New York University doctoral candidates Jessie Ford and Jose´ Soto-Marquez, did not come as a surprise to Faith Cheltenham, vice president of bisexual advocacy group BiNet USA.
“This study is part of a growing trend; one too late for bisexual survivors of rape like myself,” she said. “We are the invisible walking wounded, but our assaults, rapes and beatings seem to have had very little effect on the funding set aside for bisexual communities.”
The study's conclusion offers universities several suggestions to help prevent sexual assault on campus, including campus-wide surveys to better estimate the prevalence of sexual assault; better oversight of fraternities and sororities; and a multifaceted intervention strategy that specifically targets lesbian, gay and bisexual students.