Sexual abuse in lesbian and bisexual young women: Associations with emotional/behavioral difficulties, feelings about sexuality, and the “coming out” process

Jennifer S. Robohm, Brian W. Litzenberger, Laurie Anne Pearlman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examined associations between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and emotional/behavioral difficulties, feelings about one’s sexuality, and the “coming out” process in a sample of 227 lesbian and bisexual women, ages 18–23, recruited for an online questionnaire study. Participants with a CSA history (“experiencers”) reported significantly more emotional/behavioral difficulties than their nonexperiencer counterparts, suggesting that CSA may be an important contributor to some problems and behaviors currently linked in the literature to sexual orientation. Lesbian and bisexual experiencers varied widely as to whether and how they felt a CSA history affected their feelings about their sexuality or their “coming out” process. We discuss the implications of these findings for counseling, research, and theorizing involving lesbian and bisexual young women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-47
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Lesbian Studies
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 19 2003

Keywords

  • Bisexual
  • Emotional/behavioral difficulties
  • Lesbian
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexuality
  • Violence
  • “coming out” process

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