The Vulnerability Of Sexual Minority Women
Article Date: 17 Jun 2012 – 0:00 PDT
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.
It is yet not fully understood why sexual minority women are at greater risk of being abused both as children and adults compared to heterosexual women. Using data from the Rainbow Women’s Project in the US – a national, web-based survey of adult women who identify as lesbian/gay and bisexual – the researchers examined whether 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).