Trauma symptoms resulting from sexual violence among undergraduate students: Differences across gender and sexual minority status
Paquette G, Martin-Storey A, Bergeron M, Dion J, Daigneault I, Hébert M, Ricci S, *Castonguay-Khounsombath S. (2019). Trauma symptoms resulting from sexual violence among undergraduate students: Differences across gender and sexual minority status. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Experiencing sexual violence is an important risk factor for trauma symptoms, and these symptoms significantly impair psychosocial functioning. Sexual and gender minority university students are more likely than their heterosexual and cisgender peers to experience sexual violence (e.g., sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact, or sexual coercion) while attending university, but research on the consequences of these experiences is needed to inform service provision to these vulnerable populations. Using a large-scale study of university-based sexual violence in Quebec, the current study examined how gender and sexual minority status were associated with the severity of trauma symptoms among students who experienced sexual violence (N = 1,196). Findings indicated that compared with their cisgender peers, gender minority students experienced significantly higher levels of trauma symptoms as a result of sexual violence, controlling for the severity of sexual violence behaviors experienced and other variables. Among cisgender women, but not cisgender men, sexual minority identity was also associated with higher levels of trauma symptoms, controlling for severity of sexual violence behaviors experienced and other variables. Furthermore, gender of perpetrator and amount of sexual violence moderated the associations between sexual identity and trauma symptoms among cisgender women. These findings not only suggest that gender minority and some sexual minority university students are more likely to experience sexual violence, but that they are also more likely to experience negative psychological sequelae as a consequence of these experiences. Ultimately, these findings may suggest the need for services that are more supportive of the specific needs of gender and sexual minority students with regard to sexual violence.