Compassand Palm Beach County Victim Services have teamed up to raise awareness of LGBT-related sexual assault and domestic violence. 

The two organizations officially partnered earlier this year to promote each others’ services. Their most recent project is a billboard and bus stop campaign stamped with a simple message: “Sexual assault can happen to anyone.”

Although Palm Beach County Victim Services treats people of all genders and orientations, Compass is helping them incorporate more LGBT-inclusive messaging.

“LGBT [sexual assault/domestic violence claims] can often be disregarded because of their status, because they’re not heterosexual,” said Lucas O’Ryan, Compass’ transgender youth coordinator. “People are already intimidated to report those things — and when you’re part of a marginalized community, it makes it even harder.”

Along with the new digital billboard and posters across Lake Worth, Compass has also trained the Palm Beach County Victim Services staff on cultural competency and LGBT terminology.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), LGBT people face higher rates of sexual violence than heterosexual people do. 

In the U.S., 47 percent of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point — and the percentage increases if they’re a person of color, the HRC found in a survey

Another survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found other instances of how LGBT sexual assault rates differ:

  • 22 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of heterosexual women
  • 40 percent of gay men and 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21 percent of heterosexual men
  • 44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women

“With this LGBT-friendly messaging, they would hopefully know that they’re included,” O’Ryan said.

SFGN reached out to Palm Beach County Victim Services, but has not received a response as of publication time.

You can reach Palm Beach County Victim Services’ 24-hour crisis hotline at 561-833-7273.