Weaponized Oppression: Identity Abuse and Mental Health in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Community

Julie M. Woulfe, Lisa A. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) experience unique IPV tactics called identity abuse (i.e., abuse tactics within an intimate partnership that leverage systemic oppression to harm an individual). This study explored the effect of identity abuse on symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It investigated whether affirmative LGBTQ identity moderates this relationship. Method: A total of 734 sexual minority adults aged 18 to 61 were recruited between October 2014 and September 2015 through online listservs and forums. They completed online surveys with measures of identity abuse, PTSD symptoms, depression symptoms, and affirmative LGBT identity. Ordinary least squares regression analysis was used to explore the study's main hypotheses. Results: Identity abuse exposure in adulthood explained variance in depression (β = .10, p < .01) and PTSD (β = .11, p < .01) scores while controlling for other forms of IPV and demographic variables. Similarly, identity abuse exposure in the past year explained variance in depression (β = .09, p < .05) and PTSD (β = .14, p < .01) scores while controlling for other forms of IPV and demographic variables. As expected, positive identity affirmation moderated the relationship between adult identity abuse exposure (β = -.07, p < .05) and past year identity abuse exposure (β= -.09, p < .01) and symptoms of depression. Conclusion: Results of this study suggest that identity abuse is associated with symptoms of depression and PTSD, and that affirmative identity may be an important buffer of these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Violence
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

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Keywords

  • Domestic violence
  • Identity abuse
  • Intimate partner violence
  • LGBTQ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology

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