Research Article|Articles in Press

Polyvictimization Among Sexual and Gender Minority Youth


      Polyvictimization is a significant public health issue. Sexual and gender minority youth are important to include in polyvictimization research because they report higher rates of victimization than nonsexual and gender minority youth. This study examines whether polyvictimization attenuates the associations between individual types of victimization and depressed mood and substance use across gender and sexual identities.


      Data were collected cross-sectionally from 3,838 youth aged 14–15 years. Youth were recruited through social media between October 2018 and August 2019 across the U.S. Analyses were conducted in July 2022. Sexual and gender minority youth were oversampled. Depressed mood and substance use were dependent variables.


      Transgender boys were the most likely to be polyvictims (25%). Transgender girls (14.2%) and cisgender sexual minority girls (13.4%) also reported high rates. Cisgender heterosexual boys were the least likely to be classified as polyvictims (4.7%). When adjusting for polyvictimization, existing relationships between individual types of victimization (e.g., theft) and depressed mood became nonsignificant in most cases. Of exception, witnessing violence and peer victimization remained significant predictors of the odds of depressed mood. Most associations between individual types of victimization and substance use became nonsignificant after considering polyvictimization, with the exception of cisgender heterosexual boys and girls, for whom many remained significant but attenuated (e.g., emotional interpersonal violence).


      Sexual and gender minority youth experience a disproportionate number of victimizations across multiple domains. A comprehensive assessment of victimization exposure may be important when considering prevention and intervention approaches for depressed mood and substance use.
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