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A social ecological approach to understanding correlates of lifetime sexual assault among sexual minority women in Toronto, Canada: results from a cross-sectional internet-based survey

17 Jul 2014

Stigma, discrimination and violence contribute to health disparities among sexual minorities. Lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women experience sexual violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexual women. Most research with LBQ women, however, has focused on measuring prevalence of sexual violence rather than its association with health outcomes, individual, social and structural factors. We conducted a cross-sectional online survey with LBQ women in Toronto, Canada. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess correlates of lifetime sexual assault (LSA). Almost half (42%) of participants (n = 415) reported experiences of LSA. Participants identifying as queer were more likely to have experienced LSA than those identifying as lesbian. When controlling for socio-demographic characteristics, experiencing LSA was associated with higher rates of depression, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), receiving an STI test, belief that healthcare providers were not comfortable with their LBQ sexual orientation, and sexual stigma (overall, perceived and enacted). A history of sexual violence was associated with lower: self-rated health, overall social support, family social support and self-esteem. This research highlights the salience of a social ecological framework to inform interventions for health promotion among LBQ women and to challenge sexual stigma and sexual violence.

17 July 2014

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Health Education Research