Abstract: Adverse Childhood Experiences, Intimate Partner Violence & Depression Among LGBTQ+ College Students (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

162P Adverse Childhood Experiences, Intimate Partner Violence & Depression Among LGBTQ+ College Students

Friday, January 14, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Jennifer Allen, MSW, Doctoral Student, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Abbie Nelson, MSW, Graduate Assistant, Michigan State University, Lansing, MI
Hyunkag Cho, PhD, Associate Professor, Michigan State University
Background and Purpose. Although lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer [LGBTQ+] people are at least as likely to experience intimate partner violence [IPV] victimization as non-LGBTQ+ people, much IPV research focuses on cisgender, heterosexual people. Moreover, LGBTQ+ people are more likely than non-LGBTQ+ people to experience adverse childhood experiences [ACEs], such as physical or sexual abuse. Experiencing ACEs and/or IPV is associated with negative mental health outcomes, and there is overwhelming evidence that LGBTQ+ people report higher rates of depression than non-LGBTQ+ people. However, to our knowledge, this is one of few studies to examine the relationship between ACEs, IPV and depression in a large sample of LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ individuals. To address this gap, we examined the following questions: (1) Do people who experience more instances of ACEs and/or IPV have higher depression?; (2) Do LGBTQ+ people experience instances of ACEs and/or IPV than non-LGBTQ+ people?; and (3) Do LGBTQ+ people report more depression symptoms than non-LGBTQ+ people?

Methods. 4,607 students at seven universities in the U.S. and Canada completed an online survey. Approximately 10% of the sample identified as LGBTQ+. ACEs were measured as peer or community violence, exposure to community or domestic violence, and childhood abuse and neglect. IPV was measured as physical, psychological or sexual violence perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner. A series of linear regressions was conducted to examine relationships among LGBTQ+ identity, ACEs, IPV and depression.

Results. The number of instances of each type of ACE had a weak-to-moderate positive correlation with IPV (r = .14-.28, p =. 01). Experiencing more instances of IPV (β = .19, p < .001), peer violence (β = .57, p < .001), childhood abuse and neglect (β = .38, p < .001) and community violence (β = .83, p = .003) were associated with higher depression scores. When considering all ACEs and IPV, LGBTQ+ people experienced more instances of violence than non-LGBTQ+ people (β = .62, p < .001). LGBTQ+ people also experienced more instances of each type of ACE (β = .48-2.34, p ≤ .001) and IPV (β = 1.24, p = .04) than non-LGBTQ+ people. Non-LGBTQ+ people also reported lower depression than LGBTQ+ people (β = -3.35, p < .001).

Conclusions and Implications. Our findings suggest that LGBTQ+ people are at risk for multiple types of violence as well as depression from childhood into young adulthood. Therefore, routine screening for ACEs and IPV in settings that serve LGBTQ+ people should be implemented to improve their mental wellbeing. Interventions for IPV survivors, which are often targeted toward heterosexual women with male perpetrators, should also be expanded or modified to better address the needs of LGBTQ+ IPV survivors. Our study contributes to the literature on LGBTQ+ IPV and mental health by surveying a large sample, having a non-LGBTQ+ comparison group, and including other types of violence in our analyses. However, future research would benefit from examining differences in these associations between LGBTQ+ identities to better target interventions for those most at risk.