Disparities in child abuse victimization in lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual women in the Nurses' Health Study II

S. Bryn Austin, Hee Jin Jun, Benita Jackson, Donna Spiegelman, Janet Rich-Edwards, Heather L. Corliss, Rosalind J. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: A growing body of research documents multiple health disparities by sexual orientation among women, yet little is known about the possible causes of these disparities. One underlying factor may be heightened risk for abuse victimization in childhood in lesbian and bisexual women. Methods: Using survey data from 63,028 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study II, we investigated sexual orientation group differences in emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence. Multivariable log-binomial and linear regression models were used to examine orientation group differences in prevalence and severity of abuse, with heterosexual as the referent and controlling for sociodemographics. Results: Results showed strong evidence of elevated frequency, severity, and persistence of abuse experienced by lesbian and bisexual women. Comparing physical abuse victimization occurring in both childhood and adolescence, lesbian (30%, prevalence ratio [PR] 1.61, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.40, 1.84) and bisexual (24%, PR 1.26, 95% CI 1.00, 1.60) women were more likely to report victimization than were heterosexual women (19%). Similarly, comparing sexual abuse victimization occurring in both age periods, lesbian (19%, PR 2.16, 95% CI 1.80, 2.60) and bisexual (20%, PR 2.29, 95% CI 1.76, 2.98) women were more likely to report victimization than were heterosexual women (9%). Conclusions: This study documents prevalent and persistent abuse disproportionately experienced by lesbian and bisexual women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-606
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2008
Externally publishedYes

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