June 15, 2012
Sexual Minority Women Often Abused
Assault and abuse varies, depending on how butch or feminine gay women are
Adult lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to report childhood abuse and adult sexual assault than heterosexual women, according to a new study by Dr. Keren Lehavot from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, USA and her collaborators. Furthermore, the researchers' work shows that women who are more butch report more abuse in childhood, particularly physical and emotional neglect, while women who identify as femme, and have a more feminine appearance, report more adult sexual assaults. The work is published online in Springer's journal, Sex Roles.
A total of 1,243 adult sexual minority women completed an anonymous Internet survey posted on various listservs and website groups. Regarding gender identity, 40 percent of participants identified with the term 'femme' and 15 percent with the term 'butch'.
Dr. Lehavot comments: "The sexual minority women in our sample reported high rates of childhood abuse and neglect and adult sexual assault. Women who described themselves as more butch reported significantly greater childhood emotional and physical neglect. Those who identified themselves as more femme reported significantly more forced adult sex. Given the gravity of this widespread problem, identifying the most vulnerable among this group is critical. Clinicians and providers working with sexual minorities should consider the role of gender identity and expression in targeted assessments and interventions."
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