“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
A hate crime is the victimization of an individual based on that individual’s race, religion, national origin, ethnic identification, gender, or sexual orientation.
How does this relate to rape and sexual assault?
While any targeted group can experience rape and sexual assault as a form of hate crime, there are two groups that are often noted for being victims of this particular form of hate crime.
• Women: Many believe that all violence against women, including rape and sexual assault, is a hate crime because it is not simply a violent act, but is “an act of misogyny, or hatred of women” (Copeland & Wolfe, 1991).
• People in the LGBT Community: Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) community are often targets of hate crimes, many of which include rape or sexual assault. In one study of almost 2,000 lesbian and gay individuals in Sacramento, CA, ( USA) about one-fifth of the women and one-fourth of the men had been victimized at some point during the past 5 years (APA, 1998; “Safety and Hate Crimes,” 2006). In recent years an increase of these types of crimes has been reported in Haiti.
Because a hate crime is an attack on an individual due to his or her identity affiliation (race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, national origin, etc.), the emotional effects of a rape or sexual assault as a hate crime can be compounded. An individual may not only experience the reactions that often follow a rape or sexual assault, he or she may also suffer from additional effects brought on by the attack of their identity. These reactions can include:
• Deep personal hurt, betrayal
• Feelings of powerlessness, vulnerability, anger, sadness
• Fear for personal and family’s safety
• Changes in lifestyle (where they walk, how they answer the phone, their reactions to strangers)
In addition, research has shown that victims of hate crimes are more likely to experience psychological distress such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anger than other victims of other crimes. Therefore, if an individual is a victim of a rape or sexual assault that is a hate crime, he or she is more likely to experience psychological effects that are seen both with hate crimes and rape and sexual assault.
Finally, the recovery time can also be prolonged. Research has shown that it can take as much as five years for victims of hate crimes to overcome the emotional and psychological distress caused by such an attack (APA, 1998).
National Center for Victims of Crime
U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service, Hate Crime: The Violence of Intolerance.
Adapted by CUASVAHH from rainn.org