Abstract: More Abuse & Less Help: Intimate Partner Violence and Barriers to Help-Seeking for LGBTQ Survivors (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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214P More Abuse & Less Help: Intimate Partner Violence and Barriers to Help-Seeking for LGBTQ Survivors

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Jennie Pless, MSW, PhD Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Y. Joon Choi, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Athens, GA
Yein Yoon, MSW, PhD students, School of Social Work, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background & Purpose: LGBTQ people experience intimate partner violence (IPV) at the same or higher rates than the general population. Little research has examined IPV or help-seeking among LGBTQ populations despite this high prevalence. LGBTQ survivors also face additional barriers to help-seeking due to their minoritized identity in the homophobic society and heteronormative IPV services in the United States. The purpose of the study was to compare rates of IPV, help-seeking for and consequences of IPV, and barriers to help-seeking between LGBTQ survivors and non-LGBTQ survivors.

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.