UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sexual violence supports for bisexual adults : qualitative interviews with sexual assault centre practitioners Marie, Jess


As many sexual assault centres seek to address service gaps brought to their attention by clients, activists, advocates, and researchers, some narratives are prioritized while others remain in the margins. The main sexual violence discourse focuses on experiences had by heterosexual, white, cis women without disability. While LGBTQ2S+ tailored services are increasing within sexual assault centres, there remains a pervasive, false narrative of an LGBTQ2S+ community with universal needs and experiences. Within this universal LGBTQ2S+ community narrative, bisexuality is lumped together with concretely definable and recognizable sexual orientations like lesbian and gay. The resulting oppression of bisexual populations within the LGBTQ2S+ narrative appears in the forms of bierasure and binegativity, which in turn may exclude, invalidate, or ignore the lived experiences of bisexual individuals. With all forms of oppression sexual violence thrives when individuals are disbelieved, ignored, and excluded. The oppression of bisexuality creates increased targeting of bisexual individuals by people who engage in sexually violent behaviours. This oppression of bisexuality in society is represented through bisexuality’s existence in sexual violence narratives only as a part of the LGBTQ2S+ collective without any specific service offerings for bisexual individuals at sexual assault centres. Existing research with bisexual populations that demonstrates sexual violence is pervasive to an extent beyond other sexual orientations. This qualitative study further explores whether the available research on bisexual experiences of sexual violence is informing practice within sexual assault centres. Semi-structured, open-ended interviews an hour in length were conducted individually with nine sexual assault centre practitioners across Canada. Interviews sought to gauge the confidence and knowledge of sexual assault centre practitioners with regards to supporting bisexual adults who have experienced sexual violence. Insight into how practitioners understand the relationship between bisexuality and sexual violence was obtained, along with in depth processing of how practitioner identity, agency values, and barriers to support impact practice with bisexual clients. These results further the understanding of how to support bisexual adults who have experienced sexual violence and emphasize why bisexual populations require nuanced support within sexual assault centres. Keywords: bisexual, sexual assault centre, sexual violence support, practitioner

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