In an American study, lesbian and bisexual women reported higher
rates of childhood abuse and adult sexual assault than heterosexual
The researchers, who cannot explain the reason for the findings,
also found that butch-identified women were more likely to report
childhood abuse, including physical and emotional neglect, while
femme-identified women reported higher rates of sexual assault as
The researchers reviewed data gathered by the Rainbow Women's
Project, a national, survey of sexual minority women which focused
on self-perceptions of gender identity. The anonymous online survey
was answered by 1,243 women, of whom 40% identified as femme, and
15% as butch.
Lead researcher Keren Lehavot said: "The sexual minority women in
our sample reported high rates of childhood abuse and neglect and
adult sexual assault. Women who described themselves as more butch
reported significantly greater childhood emotional and physical
"Those who identified themselves as more femme reported
significantly more forced adult sex. Given the gravity of this
widespread problem, identifying the most vulnerable among this
group is critical.
"Clinicians and providers working with sexual minorities should
consider the role of gender identity and expression in targeted
assessments and interventions."
Her full report is published online in the journal, Sex Roles.