Methods: Researchers used an anonymous online survey of undergraduate students from seven universities for this study (N = 4,723). Participants were grouped as an LGBTQ group (13.26%) or a non-LGBTQ group (86.74%) based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. IPV victimization was measured by a 12-item questionnaire measuring physical, verbal, and psychological abuse. Participants indicated sources they had utilized in seeking help and what reasons prevented them from help-seeking. Consequences of IPV was measured by three items: physical injury, fear experienced during the abuse, and whether they missed days of work or school due to the IPV incident. Researchers used 1) t-tests to compare the two groups on IPV victimization; 2) logistic regressions to compare the impact of having an LGBTQ identity on IPV consequences and reaching out to each of the reported sources for help; and 3) OLS regression to assess LGBTQ identity as a predictor of barriers to help-seeking and a moderating relationship of LGBTQ identity between level of abuse and help-seeking.
Results: LGBTQ participants had significantly higher IPV scores (t = 4.27, p < .0001). LGBTQ survivors were also more likely to have suffered physical injuries (OR= 1.428, 95% CI [1.041, 1.957]), to have missed work or school (OR= 1.842, 95% CI [1.374, 2.471]), and to report a greater level of fear (t = 4.45, p < .0001) as a result of the abuse. LGBTQ survivors were significantly less likely to seek help from men’s or women’s programs (OR= 0.548, 95% CI [0.301, 0.998]), or their immediate family (OR= 0.556, 95% CI [0.374, 0.826]). On the other hand, LGBTQ survivors were significantly more likely to report seeking help from a source not listed in the survey (OR= 1.805, 95% CI [1.118, 2.913]). Among survivors, having an LGBTQ identity was predictive of more barriers to help-seeking (β = 0.37, t = 6.55, p < .0001). Finally, LGBTQ identity moderated the relationship between level of abuse and help-seeking (β = 0.03, t = 4.43, p < .0001).
Conclusions: Significantly higher IPV victimization and more severe IPV consequences among LGBTQ populations call for LGBTQ-specific IPV research and interventions. More research and services should address barriers LGBTQ people face to help-seeking and provide necessary services for LGBTQ survivors. Qualitative research exploring specific barriers LGBTQ survivors face in seeking help and identifying help-seeking sources LGBTQ survivors utilize will yield fruitful information that can inform IPV interventions for these populations.