Lesbian and Bisexual Women Report More Childhood Trauma

childhood traumaA new study by Keren Lehavot, Ph.D. and colleagues found that adult lesbian and bisexual women who are more masculine report more physical abuse and emotional neglect during childhood.[1] Also, adult lesbian and bisexual women who are more feminine report more adult sexual assaults.1

Lehavot stated, “The purpose of our study was to shed light on the ways in which gender expression and  identity among lesbian and bisexual women might be associated with experiences of abuse, in an effort to provide awareness, resources, and support.”1

It is not clear why sexual minority women are at a greater risk of being abused both as children and adults when compared with heterosexual women.1 Lehavot and colleagues examined data from the Rainbow Women’s Project, a national, web-based survey of adult women who identify as lesbian and bisexual.1 They found that reported experiences of childhood abuse and adult sexual assault differed among sexual minority women of varying gender identity (butch, femme, androgynous, or other) and gender expression (more butch/masculine vs. more femme/feminine).1

Forty percent of the survey participants identified with the term “femme” and 15 percent with the term “butch.”1 Women who described themselves as butch reported significantly greater childhood emotional and physical neglect, while those who identified themselves as femme reported significantly more forced adult sex.1

Lehavot and colleagues concluded: “Clinicians and providers working with sexual minorities should consider the role of gender identity and expression in targeted assessments and interventions.”1

[1] Nauert, R. (2012). More Childhood Trauma Reported by Some Types of Lesbian, Bisexual Women. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 7, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/06/15/lesbian-bisexual-women-more-likely-to-suffer-abuse/40200.html

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