Abstract: Intimate Partner Violence Among LGBTQ Youth: The Role of Discrimination and Child Maltreatment (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Intimate Partner Violence Among LGBTQ Youth: The Role of Discrimination and Child Maltreatment

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Nathan Q. Brewer, MSW, Student, Simmons College, Boston, MA
Kristie Thomas, PhD, Associate Professor, Simmons College, Boston, MA
Background: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth are known to have increased rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) when compared to their cisgender and heterosexual peers. Understanding the etiology of this disparity is imperative for the prediction and prevention of the problem. Minority stress theory and intergenerational transmission of violence theory suggest that increased IPV risk might be due to increased exposure to discrimination and child maltreatment among LGBTQ individuals, respectively. Although several studies have explored the relationship of IPV to discrimination and child maltreatment, these studies either excluded transgender participants or only explored IPV victimization, not perpetration. Additionally, no known study has explored the relationship to discrimination and child maltreatment simultaneously. This study aimed to address these gaps in the literature.

Methods: Participants were 84 self-identified LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 who reported a romantic or sexual relationship in the past year. A convenience sample was recruited through LGBTQ-serving organizations and events. Participants identified their sex assigned at birth as female (69%); gender identity as female (37%); sexual identity as gay, lesbian, or homosexual (35%); race as white (46%); and ethnicity as non-Hispanic (57%). Paper surveys used validated measures to assess IPV victimization and perpetration, LGBTQ discrimination, and childhood maltreatment.

A path analysis was used to simultaneously test the relationship between the following: IPV victimization (physical, emotional, and sexual violence) and LGBTQ discrimination; IPV victimization and child maltreatment. A second path analysis was used to simultaneously test the relationship between the following: IPV perpetration (physical and emotional violence) and LGBTQ discrimination; IPV perpetration and child maltreatment. Sexual violence perpetration was dropped from analysis due to no participants reporting this behavior.

Results: In the first path model, LGBT discrimination was associated with greater intimate partner physical (β=0.40, P<.001), emotional (β=0.34, P=.003), and sexual violence victimization (β=0.45, P<.001). Child maltreatment was not associated with IPV victimization (physical β=-0.08, P=.506; emotional β=0.13, P=.275; sexual β=-0.19, P=.107). In the second path model, IPV perpetration was not associated LGBT discrimination (physical β=1.47, P=.228; emotional β=0.03, P=.833), nor child maltreatment (physical β=0.05, P=.664; emotional β=.01, P=.915).

Conclusion & Implications: These findings add to a growing body of literature supporting the minority stress theory of LGBTQ IPV, while challenging the intergenerational transmission of violence theory. These findings suggest that interventions that reduce LGBTQ discrimination might also be effective at reducing IPV victimization. Future longitudinal research should test this hypothesis with known anti-discrimination interventions. Although no relationship was found between LGBTQ discrimination and IPV perpetration, these findings may be due to the low rates of perpetration reported by study participants. The lack of significant relationship between child maltreatment and IPV may be due to the inclusion of multiple abuse types in the maltreatment variable. Future research should explore the relationship between IPV and specific types of child maltreatment, including exposure to parental IPV.