The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Adults: Comparing Rates of Cis- and Transgender Victimization

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 3:30 PM
Marriott Riverwalk, Alamo Ballroom Salon E, 2nd Floor Elevator Level BR (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Lisa Langenderfer, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Darren Whitfield, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Songmin Kim, MEd, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Denver, CO
N. Eugene Walls, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Purpose: Despite comparable rates of interpersonal violence (i.e., intimate partner violence/dating violence, sexual assault/rape, stalking) among LGBTQ persons, research has paid more attention to violence among their heterosexual peers. Even less attention is given to transgender individuals specifically, though limited literature suggests they experience even higher rates of interpersonal violence, with estimated rates of sexual assault and stalking at 14% and 23%, respectively (Lombardi, Wilchins, Priesing, & Malouf, 2002). Building on limited extant research, this study of LGBTQ adults in Colorado examined experiences of interpersonal violence, specifically addressing whether or not cis- and transgender individuals differ in: 1) the prevalence of interpersonal violence; 2) reporting interpersonal violence to police; and 3) seeking services following interpersonal violence.

Methods: Data used for analyses were collected by One Colorado, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization. Between August and September 2011, One Colorado conducted the 2011 LGBT Health Survey. The online health surveys, available in English and Spanish, were advertised to potential participants via One Colorado's email list, partner organizations’ member lists, and Facebook, resulting in a sample of 1,193 LGBTQ respondents, age 18 or older, who live in Colorado. Chi-square analyses were used to determine differences between rates of cis- and transgender participants’ self-report of interpersonal violence victimization.

Results: Overall, 36.1% of the total LGBTQ sample experienced interpersonal violence, including 51.7% of transgender and 34.2% of cisgender participants. Results indicate that transgender participants report statistically significant higher rates of all three forms of interpersonal violence combined, χ²(1, N=1142)=14.13, p<.001. In examining each form of violence separately, transgender, compared to cisgender, participants experienced significantly higher rates of IPV/dating violence, χ²(1, N=1161)=7.61, p=.006, and sexual assault/rape, χ²(1, N=1151)=30.31, p<.001. Though transgender participants also experienced higher rates of stalking than cisgender participants, this did not achieve statistical significance. Only one difference existed in reporting to police; transgender participants (2.6%) had lower rates of reporting stalking to police than cisgender participants (9.5%), χ²(1, N=508)=4.03, p=.045. Finally, transgender participants (32.4%) were more likely to seek out services following interpersonal violence than cisgender participants (19.9%), χ²(1, N=405)=5.13, p=.023. In examining service seeking behavior for each form of violence separately, transgender participants (29.9%) only reported higher rates of seeking services following sexual assault/rape than cisgender participants (17.6%), χ²(1, N=475)=6.18, p=.013.

Conclusions and Implications: Our findings indicate that transgender individuals experience interpersonal violence at higher rates than their cisgender counterparts in the LGBTQ community, particularly IPV/dating violence and sexual assault/rape. Transgender individuals also appear to seek out services following interpersonal violence at higher rates than cisgender individuals. These findings suggest that transphobia may play an important role in victimization. Despite seeking out services following interpersonal violence at higher rates than cisgender individuals, less than one-third of transgender persons actually sought out services, indicating a need to provide more and better access to services for a population facing a distinct form of discrimination and oppression.


Lombardi, E.L., Wilchins, R.A., Priesing, D., & Malouf, D. (2002). Gender Violence: Transgender experiences with violence and discrimination. Journal of Homosexuality, 42(1), 89-101. doi: 10.1300/J082v42n01_05