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Presentation on theme: "DATING violence AMONG SEXUAL MINORITY YOUTH"— Presentation transcript:

Dr. Tameka L. Gillum University of Massachusetts Amherst

2 Talk Objectives Define intimate partner violence (IPV) and dating violence Review the health consequences of IPV and dating violence Voices of queer youth Mental health consequences Conclusions

3 Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)/Dating Violence (DV)
IPV – abuse that occurs between two people in a close relationship (current or former spouses and dating partners) that may be physical, sexual, threats, or emotional (CDC, 2012) DV – a form of IPV (CDC, 2012) generally refers to teens and young adults Sexual minority youth – youth who self identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning

4 IPV Prevalence Lifetime prevalence of IPV among adults generally 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men (Black and colleagues, 2010) Same-sex IPV rates are generally found to be comparable to rates between heterosexual couples (Renner & Whitney, 2010)

5 Victims of IPV Experience Increased…
injury chronic pain gastrointestinal problems gynecological problems sexually-transmitted diseases (including HIV/AIDS) mortality disability reproductive disorders irritable bowel syndrome poor pregnancy outcomes substance abuse problems depression post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) heart and circulatory conditions worse overall general health

6 American Youth & Dating Violence
Prevalence high among American youth Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) estimate prevalence rates of victimization at approximately 10% (Eaton et al., 2006; Eaton et al, 2007; Howard et al., 2007) Community-based assessments have found prevalence rates for perpetration and victimization as high as 18-67% (Rothman et al., 2010; West & Rose, 2000)

7 Sexual Minority Youth & Dating Violence
Massachusetts YRBS (35% vs. 8%) (Mass Department of Education, 2006) National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (NLSAH), nearly 25% (Halpern and colleagues, 2004) NYC YRBS, youth who identified as having both same and opposite sex partners were more likely to have experienced past year dating violence and forced sex that those reporting only opposite sex partners (Pathela & Schillinger, 2010)

8 Sexual Minority Youth & Dating Violence
Results of an community-based assessment of sexual minority youth, aged 13 – 22 indicated that: 45% of the gay male youth 57% of bisexual male youth 44% of lesbian youth, and 38% of bisexual female youth surveyed had experienced such abuse (Freedner et al, 2002)

9 Dating Violence Has Been Linked To…
suicidal ideology increased depression poor educational outcomes emotional distress feelings of hopelessness substance abuse problems eating disorders sleep disturbances sexually transmitted infections unplanned pregnancies Adverse mental and physical health outcomes

10 Teen dating violence has been linked with…
Early sexual activity Increased rates of unprotected sex/inconsistent condom use Increased rates of alcohol & drug use Greater number of lifetime sexual partners Increased risk of victimization during young adulthood Significant risk behaviors

11 Sexual Minority Youth & Dating Violence
These problems are compounded in populations already at increased risk for negative mental and physical health outcomes as a result of hate crimes and the social stigma borne of societal homophobia (Follins, 2011; Marrow, 2004; Meyer, 2003) Such traumas are even worse for LGBTQ persons of color, who too often face the assaults and insults of racism as well (Carballo-Dieguez et al., 2005; Follins, 2011; Miller, 2007; Miller, 2011; Ryan, et al., 2009; Sandfort, Melendez, & Diaz, 2007)

12 Sexual Minority Youth & Dating Violence
Efforts to assess dating violence among this population have been limited but reveal sexual minority youth at increased risk (Dank et al., 2013; Freedner et al., 2002; Gillum & DiFulvio, 2014; Halpern et al., 2004; Mass Department of Education, 2006; Pathela & Schillinger, 2010) Though these studies suggest prevalence rates, little is known about the nature and manifestation of such violence among this population Increased risk compared to their heterosexual counterparts

13 Objectives To explore the issue of dating violence (past and current) in a sample of college aged sexual minority youth To assess whether experiences of dating violence (DV) are associated with poor mental and/or physical health outcomes among this population To determine whether experiences of dating violence as an adolescent are correlated with experiences of DV as a college student among this population

14 Objectives To explore the issue of dating violence (past and current) in a sample of college aged sexual minority youth To assess whether experiences of dating violence (DV) are associated with poor mental and/or physical health outcomes among this population To determine whether experiences of dating violence as an adolescent are correlated with experiences of DV as a college student among this population

15 Sample 109 participants 18-24 years, mean = 20
63 female, 37 male, 4 FTM, 3 Gender Queer, 1 “other,” 1 Non-gender Conforming 76% White, 6% African American, 6% Asian American, 4% Latino, 8% other (mixed race, Cape Verdean, Middle Eastern, Armenian, Israeli) 25% lesbian, 32% gay, 26% bisexual, 4% questioning, 13% other (queer, pansexual, non- orientation conforming)

16 Sample 48% single 38% dating/in a relationship with a member of the same gender 12% dating/in a relationship with a member of the opposite gender (including trans) 2% in a relationship with both

17 Focus Group Sample 18 participants (2 groups: 1 female, 1 male)
19-23 years, mean = 20 11 female, 7 male 89% White, 11% African American 17% lesbian, 33% gay, 22% bisexual, 17% questioning, (questioning, queer, pansexual, non-orientation conforming) Mirrored the overall sample except for no trans in focus group, larger sample more racially/ethnically diverse overall but focus group had more AA (both in female group), greater diversity in sexual orientation self-identification in focus group sample

18 Perceived Same-Sex DV Prevalence
“I think there’s more potential for it to happen because you’re at the same physical level and so that if a girl hits a guy that will be the end of it and like it will be resolved, but if a girl hits a girl, you may be going at it for a while. Like you’re going to hit her right back…Or if a guy hits you, you might be afraid to hit him back and you might get out of the situation, but it can just snowball into something so physically after. Like the first punch is thrown so you’re just like you know what, you’re the same size and I’m going to kick your ass.” (female participant)

19 Perceived Same-Sex DV Prevalence
“I just think it is more common that gay men could be, or not just necessarily gay men but like homosexual couples could be in more violent situations than heterosexual. There’s so much at stake with coming out and keeping a lot of stuff in.” (male participant)

20 Prevalence Rates Adolescent physical victimization, 58% (youngest age, 12 years) Adolescent physical perpetration, 41% (youngest age, 13 years) Current physical victimization, 60% Current physical perpetration, 50%

21 Prevalence Rates Adolescent psychological victimization, 86% (youngest age, 12 years) Adolescent psychological perpetration, 88% (youngest age, 12 years) Current psychological victimization, 81% Current psychological perpetration, 83%

22 Reasons for Dating Violence
Four main themes emerged: Homophobia Societal Internalized Negotiating socially prescribed gender roles Assumed female connection Other relationship issues

23 Societal Homophobia “And it’s seen as more of a problem, I think the man hits his wife then if two fags are beating each other or two dykes are going at it, whatever, who cares. Crazy gays. If a man beats his wife, it’s like, ‘whoa abuse.’” (female participant) “I didn’t even realize how bad the abuse was until I was out of the relationship and I looked back on it and I’m like “oh my god, did I really let someone talk to me like that?” (female participant) Silence and invisibility

24 Societal Homophobia “…I’ve heard of people saying I’m afraid to go to the police or the authorities or whoever’s in charge because they won’t be sympathetic because it’s a gay relationship or they won’t understand, or they’ll ridicule me or they feel this is something that I need to keep under wraps because [even if] the person is out, they might not want that kind of scrutiny.” (male participant)

25 Societal Homophobia “… it’s not made visible…it [dating violence] happens so often because it’s not really culturally okay yet to be gay…” (female participant) “[In] a closeted relationship, the prospect of fear really makes it even worse…It’s a fear of that parents will find out, that they’ll be moved out of the house, that they’ll be cut off from financial funding, all of these issues go together.” (female participant) Because the youth may not be “out” to family and friends, they say that they may endure abuse because reporting it may result in having to tell their parents about their relationship. Telling parents may result in being cut off financially, being kicked out of the home, or a disconnection from family members.

26 Societal Homophobia “…until the government allows gay people to serve openly in the military, until gay people are allowed to marry in the United States, you’re never going to be considered equal and that goes all the way down to physical violence. Your physically violent relationship is not the equal of a heterosexual physically violent relationship.” (male participant)

27 Internalized Homophobia
“I think [dating violence] has lots to do with the internalization of how you feel about being in that relationship and especially like how comfortable you are with your own gender, your own body, and I think people can have a lot of resentment towards themselves, towards their bodies, and towards their identities and especially like for me, being in a lot of straight relationships…in [those] relationships, any violence that I exhibited towards the guy has always been my resentment towards him for not being able to express like a huge part of myself, which is like having feelings for girls. There’s always having feelings for girls and the part of me that can’t express [that] and that’s definitely led to violence in [those relationships]. Like not knowing what you think or not always being okay with the relationship that you’re having.” (female participant) Being unable to express one’s identity—whether in a heterosexual or same sex relationship may also lead to expressions of violence.

28 Internalized Homophobia
“I think dealing with pressures because I don’t think one person in a relationship is comfortable and the other person is not can create a lot of issues. I see that a lot.” (female participant) “Internalized homophobia” may lead to feeling the need to hide or deny one’s sexual orientation in an attempt to fit into a heterosexual norm. Within this context, individuals continually negotiate the degree to which they are “out” in the world. Being in a same sex relationship means considering a partner’s “out” status and the affect this status may have on you. Differences here may create tensions within couples.

29 Internalized Homophobia
“She was like, “I want to wear ties.” I was looking at her like, “I’m not going outside with you wearing ties.”…For the longest time I couldn’t understand, I was so angry with her and it was just because I’m bisexual and already I don’t want to be seen as other. I’m already other, like in the community, period…but, I have the pleasure of being able to not…have my gayness be so [obvious]. You just don’t see it. It doesn’t come across at all I guess and I was comfortable with that, but if I’m walking down the street with her and she has a tie on and we’re walking together…it just turned into a very disgusting argument, very disgusting time. ” (female participant) Being in a same sex relationship may reinforce a status as “other” such that these youth often feel marginalized, disconnected, and even targeted. Resisting this otherness can be so important as to lead to abusive or violent behavior. One woman described her anger that emerged as her girlfriend expressed an interest in dressing in more stereotypical male ways. She feared that being seen with a more masculine partner would expose her as “other.”

30 Negotiating socially prescribed gender roles
“I think a lot of people think that you can’t be dominant without being either verbally abusive or like readily make it known that you’re the dominant one in the relationship between two girls.” (female participant) Participants, both male and female, described a process of negotiating socially prescribed gender roles as a reason for conflict, sometimes contributing to violence in same-sex partnerships. This included gender role or expression conflicts, changes in or fluidity of gender roles, need for one partner to assert a dominant role and the association between being dominant and abusive. Related to this, some participants attributed violence to being the means by which one partner asserts his or her dominant role in the relationship to fit gender stereotypes.

31 Negotiating socially prescribed gender roles
“…my girlfriend originally identified as gender queer. So like for the first year or so we were together, we’re both sort of like femmy or whatever and all of a sudden, she’s like presenting really masculine and she passes as a guy all the time and I like just got okay, like completely with I’m with a woman, ya da ya da, the whole gay thing and like now when people see me they’re like oh straight, heterosexual and like I’m trying to deal with being perceived that way again because I don’t want to pretend or be in a closet or be viewed that way. So it’s sort of hard to deal with that.” (female participant) Fluidity of gender expression

32 Assumed Female Connection
“I was going to say as far as the communication piece, how it can manifest itself, I’m talking about girls. She should be able to understand me. We both have the same periods. We both get moody the same way. Why don’t you understand? What the fuck is wrong with you? Why don’t you get it, you know what I mean and I’m going to be angry at her and not sensitive. If I was dating a man, it’s like he’s just not going to get it, I’m just going to let this go and go want to talk to my home girls.” Females asserted the idea that between two females there is an assumption of a shared connection with which comes the expectation that they should automatically understand each other, limiting the need for communication or the need to explain themselves to one another. The female participants expressed that when this does not occur within the relationship, tensions develop which sometimes lead to abuse.

33 Assumed Female Connection
“…there’s kind of like that female connection what you [referring to another participant] were talking about and connection you assume leads to a shared understanding and doesn’t necessarily…” “…I mean same sex couples…you have to deal with …like expecting the other person to understand you because they’re the same gender.”

34 Other Relationship Issues
“Some people just aren’t good together. So sometimes the reason for the violence is because they push each other’s buttons” (male participant) “Plus you have double the jealousy if you’re dating a bisexual girl. They’re always looking at dudes and girls like that jealousy level is just like up there.” (female participant) Participants, however, also articulated that these factors may manifest themselves differently and/or more intensely in same-sex relationships than they do in heterosexual dating relationships.

35 Mental Health Consequences
50% met or exceeded the criteria score for depression 40% met or exceeded the criteria score for PTSD Current psychological victimization related to depression and PTSD Current psychological perpetration related to PTSD Current physical perpetration related to depression and PTSD

36 Conclusions Prevalence of dating violence is disturbingly high among this population (both adolescent and current) Such violence is adversely related to physical and mental health outcomes (particularly detrimental to mental health) Prevention/intervention efforts are needed which target this population

37 Conclusions Unique factors which contribute to violence in same-sex dating relationships among youth. Assumed female connection may impeded healthy communication between female partners Young LBQ females in need of healthy role models and models of healthy same-sex relationships

38 Implications Need interventions which facilitate healthy relationships and reduce dating violence among this population Community-based organizations that work with sexual minority youth should include dating violence education Community-based IPV and sexual assault agencies and state coalitions need to address the needs of sexual minorities

39 Implications Education. Efforts must be made to educate youth about DV and the multiple ways in which abuse can occur in relationships, including the reality of such violence in same-sex dating relationships. Such efforts must begin early (middle school) Contextual Factors. Address those factors that contribute to the spread of IPV/DV. This includes community passivity, lack of effective prevention efforts, lack of early education, homophobia, structural inequalities and community violence

40 Implications Comprehensive Interventions
Inclusion of mental & sexual health in prevention agendas addressing heterosexism and homophobia education on healthy relationships acknowledgement of community-level factors which influence DV Acknowledge and validate the reality of same-sex dating among adolescents

41 Components of Culturally Specific Interventions
Designed for and developed in collaboration with target population Uses language familiar to target population Uses channels of dissemination which will successfully reach target population Representative staff Conducted in environment comfortable for participants Incorporates cultural values, norms, expectations and attitudes of target group into the intervention

42 How Interventions/Services May Be Culturally Competent
Use channels of dissemination which will successfully reach the target community Hire qualified staff that are representative of the target community Create a welcoming environment for target community within the agency Incorporate cultural values, norms, expectations and attitudes of the target community within the intervention Incorporate elements of a culturally specific curriculum

43 Thank you for your time and attention
Gillum, T. L. & DiFulvio, G. T. (2014). Examining dating violence and its mental health consequences among sexual minority youth. In D. Peterson & V. R. Panfil (eds.), Handbook of LGBT Communities, Crime and Justice (pp ). New York, NY: Springer Gillum, T. L. & DiFulvio, G. (2012). “There’s so much at stake”: Sexual minority youth discuss dating violence. Violence Against Women, 18(7),


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