3 years ago

Disability, Sexual Orientation, and the Mental Health Outcomes of Intimate Partner Violence: A Comparative Study of Women in the U.S.

Bethany M. Coston

Publication date: Available online 9 November 2018

Source: Disability and Health Journal

Author(s): Bethany M. Coston


Research on disabled non-heterosexual women’s post-intimate partner violence mental health outcomes—such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and alcohol use—is lacking.


To examine the impact of the intersection of disability and sexual orientation on women’s post-intimate partner violence mental health outcomes: including difficulty sleeping, missing school or work, or reporting some post-traumatic stress disorder symptomology and a self-reported subjective measure of overall wellbeing.


Data come from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (2010). A series of chi-square analyses were conducted (applying standardized sample weights and adjusting standard errors for both clustering and stratification for survey data).


Bisexual women are significantly more likely than straight women to report being disabled prior to victimization, but all disabled women—regardless of sexual orientation—are equivalently likely to rate their mental health as poor and/or actively experience difficulty sleeping, difficulty going to work or school, and/or PTSD.


Aligned with previous work, this study finds that bisexual women are significantly more likely than straight women to be disabled prior to experiencing all forms of intimate partner violence; and that disabled women, generally, are significantly more likely than not-disabled women to experience the negative mental health consequences of that violence. However, contrary to previous work, there are no sexual orientation disparities in said mental health outcomes among disabled women. Clinically, it is important for health care providers to be aware of the significant impact of intimate partner violence on the disabled women they regularly provide care to.

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