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Exploring mechanisms of racial disparities in intimate partner violence among sexual and gender minorities assigned female at birth

Sarah W Whitton, Margaret Lawlace, Christina Dyar, Michael E Newcomb

Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology

Objective: Sexual and gender minority people of color (SGM-POC) report higher rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) than White SGM, adding to growing evidence that people holding multiple stigmatized social identities are at particular risk for adverse experiences. We aimed to identify mechanisms underlying the racial/ethnic disparities in IPV among SGM, focusing on childhood experiences of violence, structural inequalities, and sexual minority stress.

Method: 308 SGM assigned female-at-birth (AFAB; 82 White, 133 Black, 93 Latinx; age 16-31) self-reported on minor psychological, severe psychological, physical, and sexual IPV victimization and perpetration, and three proposed mechanisms: childhood violence (child abuse, witnessing interparental violence), structural inequalities (economic stress, racial discrimination), and sexual minority stressors (internalized heterosexism, anti-SGM victimization, low social support). Indirect effects of race on IPV victimization via hypothesized mechanisms were estimated using logistic regression with 5,000 bootstrapped samples.

Results: Compared to White participants, Black participants were 2.5-7.03 times more likely to report all eight IPV types; Latinx participants were 2.5-4.8 times more likely to experience four IPV types. Univariate indirect effects analyses indicated that these racial/ethnic disparities were partially explained by higher economic stress, racial/ethnic discrimination, and childhood violence experiences (for Black and Latinx participants) and lower social support (Black participants). In multivariate models, the most robust indirect effects were through racial/ethnic discrimination and childhood violence.

Conclusions: Findings underscore the need for policy and interventions aimed at preventing IPV among SGM-POC by targeting factors that contribute to IPV disparities in this group, particularly racial/ethnic discrimination and family violence. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

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