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Victimization linked to substance abuse

Feb. 25, 2011 at 6:39 PM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Victimization by unwanted sexual activity, neglect, physical violence and assault is associated with substance abuse, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Tonda Hughes, professor and interim head of health systems science in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, says she and colleagues compared victimization experiences across four sexual-identity subgroups -- heterosexual, gay or lesbian, bisexual, or "not sure." They used data collected nationally from 34,635 adults for the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, found lesbian and bisexual women were more than twice as likely as heterosexual women to report any victimization over their lifetime. Three times as many lesbians as heterosexual women reported childhood sexual abuse.

Gay men reported significantly higher rates of childhood sexual abuse, childhood neglect, partner violence and assault with a weapon than heterosexual men, the researchers say.

Not only are there higher rates of violence and victimization among sexual minorities, but there is also a higher rate of substance abuse, Hughes said.

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