By Josephine Raye Kelly
What does bodily autonomy mean in a country where three women a day are killed by an intimate partner and over half of women have experienced sexual violence? These numbers get significantly higher when we look at the bisexual population. Bisexual women report anywhere from a 50-80% lifetime rate of intimate partner violence and sexual violence, are less likely to report their sexual assaults to providers, and are less likely to access services than straight and lesbian victims.
Unsurprisingly, bisexual women are also more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy than lesbian and heterosexual women and three times as likely as heterosexuals to have had an abortion. Additionally, pregnancies of bisexual women are four to nine times more likely to be connected to sexual or physical violence by the male partner involved in the pregnancy. This suggests that the overturn of Roe v. Wade will disproportionately impact bi+ women and contribute to more violence against them, both systemically and interpersonally. And it’s likely they will continue to remain largely unacknowledged in discourse and policy about reproductive justice.
While bisexual women experience the highest rates of violence, one in three men have also experienced sexual violence and one in four men have been victims of intimate partner violence. Nonbinary people also experience high rates of victimization. Approximately 55% of nonbinary people had been physically attacked or sexually assaulted as adults, over 80% were victims of emotional abuse as children and 40% were victims of physical or sexual child abuse. These alarming numbers show that this is an epidemic that impacts people of all backgrounds and identities. Full bodily autonomy will not exist in the United States, or in the rest of the world, until all people can live freely without the constant threat of intimate abuse and systemic violence.
Bisexual Stigma, Sexual Violence, and Sexual Health Among Bisexual and Other Plurisexual Women: A Cross-Sectional Survey Study. The Journal of Sex Research doi: 10.1080/00224499.2018.1563042
Power and Inequality: Intimate Partner Violence Against Bisexual and Nonmonosexual Women in the United States (Sage Journals)
Sexual Orientation Differences in Pregnancy and Abortion Across the Lifecourse (Science Direct)
Fast Facts: Preventing Sexual Violence (CDC)
Sexual Orientation and Exposure to Violence Among U.S. Patients Undergoing Abortion (Obstetrics & Gynecology; Green Journal)
Violence Against Women the United States: Statistics (NOW)
Sexual Orientation Differences in Pregnancy and Abortion Across Lifecourse (Women’s Health Issues)
Josephine Raye Kelly is a writer, social worker, and somatics teacher. In the summer of 2022, they co-founded Ouch! Collective, a queer art collective based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit them in the virtual world at josephinerayekelly.com and @jrk.dreamscape on Instagram.