Individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning, and other non-heterosexual orientations (LGBQ+) are significantly more likely to experience a sexual assault. To date, research on barriers to sexual assault disclosure (i.e., telling someone about a sexual assault) has been conducted almost exclusively on heterosexual women. Participants ages 18 to 30 participated in a cross-sectional, online study that assessed unwanted sexual experiences, disclosure of those experiences, perceptions of the police and perceptions of belonging to the LGBQ+ community. Findings demonstrated that survivors who identified as LGBQ+ took longer to initially disclose their sexual assault and had greater negative perceptions of police than survivors who identified as heterosexual. Also, among survivors who identified as LGBQ+, the degree of "outness" of sexual orientation was positively associated with sexual assault disclosure. However, perceptions of the police were not associated with disclosure of sexual assault to the police among people who identified as LGBQ+. Perceptions of belonging to the LGBQ+ community were also not associated with disclosure likelihood. The results of this study help to better understand how the sexual assault disclosure process differs by sexual orientation and suggest that providers who work with survivors who identify as LGBQ+ need to keep in mind the unique concerns faced by survivors who identify as LGBQ+ who may be considering disclosing their trauma. These findings also call attention to the negative perceptions of police that continue to be held by people who identify as LGBQ+. Due to limited research on the topic of sexual assault and the LGBQ+ community, this study may encourage future researchers to examine additional barriers to sexual assault disclosure that may be unique for survivors who identify as LGBQ+ and how disclosure is received by both formal and informal support.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Kanefsky, Rebekah, "Sexual Orientation and the Disclosure of Unwanted Sexual Experiences" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1142.