Huffpost Gay Voices

Lesbian And Bisexual Woman More Likely To Encounter Child Abuse And Sexual Assault, Study Finds

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UPDATE: Dr. Keren Lehavot, the study's author, tells HuffPost Gay Voices reports have misconstrued the aim of the research, which intended to intended to shed light on the ways in which gender expression and identity among lesbian and bisexual women might be associated with experiences of abuse.

"In fact, our study did not recruit heterosexual women or compare them to lesbian and bisexual women," she writes. "Note that there has been previous research that has found that lesbian and bisexual women do report greater rates of abuse than heterosexual women, likely for a number of complicated reasons; however, this was neither the finding nor the purpose of our study."

A new study has revealed some interesting correlations between lesbian women's identities and their traumatic life experiences.

As PsychCentral is reporting, lesbian and bisexual women are overall more likely to report childhood abuse and adult sexual assault than heterosexual women, according to a new study published in the journal "Sex Roles."

More specifically, the study -- which was based on data from the Rainbow Women's Project and took place out of the University of Washington -- also found that women who described themselves as being more "butch" were more likely to encounter abuse during childhood, particularly physical and emotional neglect. On the other hand, women who identify themselves as "femme," and hence have a more feminine appearance, reportedly encounter more sexual assaults as adults.

A total of 1,243 adult sexual minority women completed the anonymous Internet survey, which was reportedly posted on a number of different listservs and websites. An estimated 40 percent of the respondents self-identified with the term "femme," while a mere 15 percent did so with the term "butch."

"The sexual minority women in our sample reported high rates of childhood abuse and neglect and adult sexual assault," study researcher Dr. Keren Lehavot from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle is quoted by Medical Daily as saying in a statement. "Women who described themselves as more butch reported significantly greater childhood emotional and physical neglect."

"Those who identified themselves as more femme reported significantly more forced adult sex. Given the gravity of this widespread problem, identifying the most vulnerable among this group is critical. Clinicians and providers working with sexual minorities should consider the role of gender identity and expression in targeted assessments and interventions."

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