Protecting Physical Safety and Honoring Bisexual Health Month
By Victoria Taylor | March 24th 2022
My bisexuality was to be hidden, a forbidden topic of conversation, unless it was wanted to use in the context of his fantasies. Sometimes my sexual identity was “hot”, and I was badgered for threesomes with other women, the next I was a “slut” for having feelings for more than one gender while married to a man. Using constant shame tactics and emotional abuse, I was prevented from talking to any family or friends about the details of our relationship, and certainly not my sexuality, further removing my ability to feel safe and supported by anyone around me. This constant feeling of being on edge exacerbated my health issues to the point of frequent illnesses and brings me continued anxiety and CPTSD to this day.
Unfortunately, my experience is shared with many in the Bisexual+ community. Bisexual+ identity is hyper-sexualized. We are objectified in the media and placed more as the object of men’s desire, here purely for the pleasure of men, rather than an embracing and exploring of our range of experiences. The LGBTQ+ community can be frequently dehumanized through the exploitation of media, which in turn instills violence. Now add in an abusive partner and you’ve got a highly charged cocktail for future intimate partner violence and an ongoing epidemic of detrimental health impacts across the bisexual community.
March is Bisexual Health Awareness month bringing much needed attention to the health and wellbeing of bisexual+ people, including bisexual+ survivors of domestic violence. The physical, sexual, and emotional abuse suffered by bisexual survivors is at levels much higher than lesbian and heterosexual relationships and we must talk about why.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey in 2010. The survey found that 61.1% of bisexual women report a higher prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner compared to both lesbian (43.8 percent) and heterosexual women (35 percent). Even more harrowing are the stats on trans women. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, “more than half (54%) of (27,715) respondents experienced some form of intimate partner violence.” Additionally, “[n]early half (47%) of respondents have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.”
As a part of Bisexual Health Awareness Month I spoke with River McMican, and Andrea Holland of the Bisexual Resource Center. They remind us that bisexual women have few places to turn due to lack of resources specific to the bi+ community and are discouraged from reaching out for support because of a general oppression of our sexual identity. There is a culture of erasure of bi+ women, by abusers who justify their behavior by excusing their jealousy on our bi+ identity and, by queer organizations who view male to female intimate partner violence only as a ‘heterosexual issue’ that doesn’t affect the queer community. It is vital that organizations and systems’ alike work towards eliminating barriers for bisexual survivors and provide a more inclusive and supportive space for bisexual women to be heard.
It is organizations like the Bisexual Resource Center who lift the Bisexual+ community that call attention to the issues specifically impacting bi+ survivors. The Bisexual Resource Center reminds us that, “The bias that bisexual people face in the workplace, home, schools, the medical community and beyond lead to higher levels of violence and mental and physical health disparities as well as discrimination.”
We can all participate by taking note of the culture of erasure of bisexual women and encouraging inclusive conversation with bisexual survivors, so we continue to hear their voices. Furthermore, we can all participate in changing the system narrative in these ways:
- Recognize that all relationships are different, and anyone can be victimized.
- Recognize the fluidity of gender and sexuality, and never assume someone’s identity.
- Remember because someone is bisexual, does not mean they are untrustworthy.
- Remember to include the voices and experiences of trans women in these conversations by modeling inclusion in programs and support.
For so long bisexual women have felt ashamed and unwilling to share their sexual identity, for fear of persecution and objectification by society and their intimate partners, which has resulted in some of the harmful health impacts we are witnessing across the bi+ community. During this bi+ health awareness month we urge coalitions, advocates, queer communities, and allies alike to take note of the high levels of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse this community is truly risk of.