Sexual orientation differences in the relationship between victimization and hazardous drinking among women in the National Alcohol Survey

This study examined relationships between past experiences of victimization (sexual abuse and physical abuse in childhood, sexual abuse and physical abuse in adulthood, and lifetime victimization) and hazardous drinking among sexual minority women compared to exclusively heterosexual women. Data were from 11,169 women responding to sexual identity and sexual behavior questions from three National Alcohol Survey waves: 2000 (n = 3,880), 2005 (n = 3,464), and 2010 (n = 3,825). A hazardous drinking index was constructed from five dichotomous variables (5+ drinking in the past year, drinking two or more drinks daily, drinking to intoxication in the past year, two or more lifetime dependence symptoms, and two or more lifetime drinking-related negative consequences). Exclusively heterosexual women were compared with three groups of sexual minority women: lesbian, bisexual, and women who identified as heterosexual but reported same-sex partners. Each of the sexual minority groups reported significantly higher rates of lifetime victimization (59.1% lesbians, 76% bisexuals, and 64.4% heterosexual women reporting same-sex partners) than exclusively heterosexual women (42.3%). Odds for hazardous drinking among sexual minority women were attenuated when measures of victimization were included in the regression models. Sexual minority groups had significantly higher odds of hazardous drinking, even after controlling for demographic and victimization variables: lesbian (ORadj = 2.0, CI = 1.1–3.9, p < .01; bisexual (ORadj = 1.8, CI = 1.0–3.3, p < .05; heterosexual with same-sex partners (ORadj = 2.7; CI = 1.7–4.3, p < .001). Higher rates of victimization likely contribute to, but do not fully explain, higher rates of hazardous drinking among sexual minority women.




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