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Bias Crimes

A bias crime (also known as a hate crime) is a criminal offense committed against a person or property out of hatred for who they are or who people think they are. These acts are motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, ethnic/national origin group, or sexual orientation group. These crimes are usually more brutal than other kinds of attacks. Bias crimes are not only meant to hurt the victim, but they are also meant to send a message of hate and fear to the larger community.

Bias crimes include:

  • Verbal harassment

  • Phone and e-mail harassment

  • Property damage

  • Threats of assault, being assaulted or “bashed”

  • Rape

  • Murder

Almost every lesbian, gay man, transgender person, or bisexual person has experienced some form of bias crime or knows someone who has.

Many LGBT individuals have become so used to violence being perpetrated against them that they tend to “expect” certain harassment for being LGBT. But the truth is, it’s never ok to be harassed or hurt because of who you are or who you’re perceived to be.

Hate Crime Statistics
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Project (NCAVP) releases a Hate Violence Report every year.  The 2009 is the most recent report on bias crime violence and is comprised of data and narratives from 15 areas across the United States from various Anti-Violence Programs. The NCAVP report is the most complete examination of such violence against LGBT people.

There is also information from The Pulse, a health assessment of the LGBT community conducted in 2004 and 2006 by the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department and the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Greater Kansas City. The Pulse included a question about hate crimes. Eleven percent of the respondents indicated that they had been a victim of a hate crime in the past three years and eight percent of respondents stated they had been victims of targeted arrest/police arassment.

Recognizing Bias Crimes

Some of the things that differentiate bias-motivated violence from other crimes include:

  • Bias crimes are more personal. Bias-crimes are more often targeted at individuals, not objects. Assaults make up 30% of bias crimes, but only 11% of all crime.

  • Higher victimization rates for some groups. Gay men are 400 times more likely to become a victim of crime.

  • Bias assaults are more violent and severe. They more often involve prolonged attacks and multiple attackers, resulting in extensive injuries.

  • Victims are fearful. Two thirds of victims had experienced multiple attacks before deciding to report.

  • Most bias-crimes are not committed by organized hate groups. The majority of attacks are committed by unidentified strangers. Some current statistics indicate that as many as 80% of bias-crimes are committed by young people under 24.

  • More emotional harm to victim. Victims experience on average 2.5 times more negative psychological symptoms, mostly because of the unprovoked nature of the attack and the potential for future attacks.

  • Potential to ignite community disorder. When a member of one group is attacked, members of all commonly targeted groups are reminded of their vulnerability.

Source: United States Department of Justice/FBI, Criminal Justice Information Systems

Doing Something About Bias Crimes

What You Can Do If You Have Been a Victim of a Bias Crime

  • If you are hurt, call (or have someone else call) 911. It is important to get medical attention, even if you think your injuries are minor. They may seem minor now, but complications may occur later.

  • Go to a safe place: Your physical and emotional safety is most important.

  • Report it- Call KCAVP: There are many reasons why people do not report crimes. However, there are reasons to consider reporting a bias crime to KCAVP. You can then determine if you want to report the crime to the police officials.

  • Remember, it is never the victims fault! Talk to someone who will be sympathetic and who will understand the seriousness of what you have been through.

KCAVP can help you:

  • Get the help you deserve – KCAVP can document the incident and help with counseling and advocacy. An advocate can go with you to the police station, the hospital, and court if you need support and guidance.

  • Document the crime – It is crucial to document ongoing harassment and violence against the lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual community. Without such a record, officials can deny the amount of violence perpetrated against our community and refuse to take the issue seriously. Even if you do not want to report to the police, you can report your incident to KCAVP for statistical documentation.

  • Prosecute perpetrators – Prosecution may stop a perpetrator from committing these crimes in the future. It can also help the survivor find and feel some sense of justice. Filing a police report is the first step.

  • Deter other potential perpetrators – If the crime goes unpunished, it can send a message that this type of violence is okay. The police may also have reports of similar incidents and can connect the crimes.

  • Receive compensation from Crime Victims Compensation Fund– You may be eligible to receive financial compensation for crime-related injuries or loss of income. If you are eligible, a police report must first be filed. KCAVP can help with the application process.

  • The decision to report a crime to the police should always be left up to the survivor of the crime.

Call KCAVP at 816-561-0550 to talk with someone who understands and can help.