Bisexual women are more often victims of sexual violence than lesbian and heterosexual women, according to the LGBT monitor from the Social and Cultural Planning Bureau (SCP) on Tuesday. There is no hard explanation, but stereotypes seem to play an important role. They probably also have consequences for the health of this group.
Sexual violence also occurs more often among lesbians and homosexuals than among heterosexuals. But bisexual women are most often victims of it. Their situation has not improved in recent years. 16 percent of them say they have experienced this in the past year, compared to 8 percent of lesbians and 5 percent of heterosexual women.
“There is a prejudice that bisexual people want to sleep with everyone,” explains Tessel ten Zweege, a bisexual woman who was a victim of sexual violence. “Some people think that bisexual people are always sexually willing and seem to forget that we also have boundaries.”
Ten Zweege became a victim in a relationship. Her partner was overly jealous of his view of her bisexuality. “With those stereotypes, he then tried to justify the violence.”
A little research into the underlying cause
It is impossible to say with certainty whether stereotypes really underlie sexual violence. A little research has been done into it.
Researchers cite the ‘bisexual stigma’ as a possible explanation, something that supports Ten Zwiege’s story. In fact, people have different assumptions about bisexual people, for example that they would like to have sex with anyone. As a result, their boundaries could be taken less seriously.
Years after his relationship, Ten Zweege decided to write his story down in the book You never wanted to allow that, intertwined with scientific articles. For that book, she spoke to bisexual women, who also said their boundaries are not always respected. “When women kiss in a club, men sometimes ask if they can join. Or a picture is taken without permission.”
Also vulnerable in the area of well-being
But it is not just the numbers on sexual violence that are of concern. Bisexual people are generally in a vulnerable position when it comes to their well-being. They are three times more likely to be mentally unhealthy and more than twice as likely to suffer from depression than heterosexual people, according to the SCP report.
There are no difficult explanations for this either. According to the SCP, this may be linked, among other things, to double minority stress: rejection and discrimination because they do not meet the heterosexual norm and because they do not meet the monosexual norm.
According to Ten Zweege, it can also be a result of the prejudices that bisexuals have to deal with. “You get the feeling that your sexuality does not exist or should not exist.”
Last year, the University of Groningen and Rutgers published the first major study of bi + humans in the Netherlands. It is a broader concept: it includes all people who have sexual and / or romantic feelings or experiences, aimed at people of more than one gender or gender. In that study, it became clear that this group actually has a lot to do with prejudice.
Nearly half of bi + participants experienced that people think their sexual orientation is temporary. One third of the bi + people in the survey regularly experience that people think they are unfaithful.
Ten Zweege also experienced this in his relationship. “If I stayed with a friend, he did not think it was possible. How could he be sure I did not go to bed with her?”
When she sought help after her relationship, she also did not always feel understood. “There is actually not much attention paid to bisexuality in care. As a bi-person, you are more vulnerable to violence, but you end up in the same mill as heterosexuals.”
How can the position of bi + people be improved?
- According to Jantine van Lisdonk from the interest group Bi + Nederland, it is high time that a major study is made of what the figures explain. In this way, the problem can be solved better.
- According to her, there is also a lot to be achieved in terms of visibility. It starts in school, she says. “There is increasing awareness of homosexuality, but bi + people remain underexposed, even though this group has different needs because they meet the norm of monosexuality and other prejudices.”
- According to her, steps must also be taken to provide assistance. Bi + Nederland regularly receives stories from people who do not feel understood. “If a caregiver’s question is: do you like men or women? Then it may immediately be a reason why bi + people may think: I can not tell my story with this caregiver.”
- As a result of the report, Bi + Holland and the interest group COC will collaborate more intensively. They argue, among other things, for better legal protection of bi + persons, special attention to bi + in school and attention to bi + persons in the social administration.