ArticlePDF Available

Sexual violence, institutional betrayal, and psychological outcomes for LGB college students.

Authors:

Abstract

Individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) are at an elevated risk of experiencing potentially traumatic events compared with the general population, particularly sexual abuse and assault (Brown & Pantalone, 2011; Rothman, Exner, & Baughman, 2011). Considering this trauma, in addition to the stress of discrimination (e.g., Marshal et al., 2015), it is perhaps unsurprising that LGB people typically report more mental health problems than heterosexual people (Mayer et al., 2008). Research further shows that institutional betrayal, or institutional failure to prevent or respond appropriately to sexual assault, may exacerbate negative outcomes for assault survivors (Smith & Freyd, 2013). The aim of this study was to determine whether LGB individuals experience higher rates of institutional betrayal compared with heterosexuals and whether this added harm may be disproportionate to individuals who are sexual minorities. In a self-report survey study of 299 undergraduates (90.3% heterosexual, 9.7% LGB-identified), LGB participants reported significantly higher rates of sexual harassment and sexual assault than heterosexual participants. LGB respondents also reported significantly higher rates of institutional betrayal, even when controlling for incidences of sexual harassment and assault. Finally, LGB participants exhibited significantly more negative psychological outcomes, including posttraumatic stress symptoms, depression, and lower collective self-esteem, related to their sexual identities. These results support prior research suggesting that LGB individuals experience more traumas and show the importance of sexual identity as a risk factor for institutional betrayal.
Sexual Violence, Institutional Betrayal, and Psychological Outcomes for LGB College Students
1Carly P. Smith, PhD, 2Sarah A. Cunningham, BS, & 2Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD
1Penn State University College of Medicine
2University of Oregon
Corresponding Author:
Carly P. Smith, PhD
csmith34@hmc.psu.edu
Sarah A. Cunningham, BS
sarah.cunningham@gmail.com
Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD
jjf@uoregon.edu
Title page with All Author Information
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
2
Abstract
Individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) are at an elevated risk of
experiencing potentially traumatic events as compared to the general population, particularly
sexual abuse and assault (Brown & Pantalone, 2011; Rothman, Exner, & Baughman, 2011).
This, in addition to the stress of discrimination (e.g., Marshal et al., 2015), it is perhaps
unsurprising that LGB people typically report more mental health problems than heterosexual
people (Mayer, Bradford, Makadon, Stall, Goldhammer, & Landers, 2008). Research further
shows that institutional betrayal, or institutional failure to prevent or respond appropriately to
sexual assault may exacerbate negative outcomes for assault survivors (Smith & Freyd, 2013).
The aim of this study was to determine whether LGB individuals experience higher rates of
institutional betrayal compared to heterosexuals and whether this added harm may be
disproportionate to individuals who are sexual minorities. In a self-report survey study of 299
undergraduates (90.3% heterosexual, 9.7% LGB-identified), LGB participants reported
significantly higher rates of sexual harassment and sexual assault than heterosexual participants.
LGB respondents also reported significantly higher rates of institutional betrayal, even when
controlling for incidences of sexual harassment and assault. Finally, LGB participants exhibited
significantly more negative psychological outcomes including post-traumatic stress symptoms,
depression, and lower collective self-esteem related to their sexual identities. These results
support prior research suggesting that LGB individuals experience more traumas and show the
importance of sexual identity as a risk factor for institutional betrayal.
Keywords: Elevated risk, Sexual Trauma, Institutional Betrayal, College Students
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS 3
Sexual Violence, Institutional Betrayal, and Psychological Outcomes for LGB College Students
Despite recent social and political reforms, identifying as a sexual minority (i.e., one
whose sexual identity, orientation, or behavior differs from the surrounding majority) in the
United States remains associated with a host of risk factors. Overall, lesbian, gay, bisexual
(LGB), and transgender (LGBT) individuals are victimized more frequently on an individual,
community, and national level (Meyer, Schwartz, & Frost, 2008). They face microaggressions
from individuals as well as institutionalized discrimination (Brown & Pantalone, 2011). These
experiences start early in life; LGBT adolescents are at a higher risk than heterosexual teenagers
of experiencing bullying, especially physical violence (Robinson & Espelage, 2013).
The cumulative toll of the stress of living in a discriminatory environment, captured by
the term ‘minority stress’ has been studied for some time in LGBT samples (e.g., Meyer 1995;
2003). In addition to being affected by stressors such as witnessing or experiencing
discrimination based on LGB status, LGB individuals are at risk for internalizing some of these
messages about their sexual identity (Meyer, 2003; Peterson & Garrity, 2006). Minority stress
and the resulting internalized homophobia have been associated with decreased individual and
collective self-esteem as LGB individuals take on negative views expressed about individuals
with same-sex sexual orientations (Peterson & Garrity, 2006). The chronic toll of minority stress
has also been identified as part of the reason that LGB people tend to report more mental and
physical health problems than heterosexual people (Mays & Cochran, 2001; Meyer et al., 2008).
The stakes are high; LGB people are much more likely to attempt or commit suicide than
heterosexual people; with some estimates putting the rate of suicide attempts at one in four LGB
individuals compared to between four and 15% of heterosexual, beginning in adolescence
(Remafedi, French, Story, Resnick, & Blum, 1998).
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
4
Burden of Unequal Risk
In addition to the diffuse and continuous toll of minority stress, LGB individuals are at
heightened risk for experiencing the acute stress of a traumatic event. Over the course of a
lifetime and compared to their heterosexual peers, LGB individuals are at a higher risk of
experiencing interpersonal trauma, such as violence from family members (e.g., Rothblum,
Balsam, Beauchaine, & Mickey, 2005) as well as sustaining a higher total number of traumatic
events (Brown & Pantalone, 2011). Intersecting identities (e.g., female gender and sexual
minority status) confer additional risk; some studies have found as many as 85% of bisexual or
lesbian women and 20% of bisexual or gay men report being sexually assaulted at some point
during their lives (Rothman, Exner, & Baughman, 2011). Sexual harassment is a frequent
experience in LGB individuals’ lives, beginning in grade school and continuing into the
workplace in adulthood (McFarland & Depuis, 2001). Harassment based on actual or perceived
LGB status, non-conformity to gender norms, or rejection of heterosexist expectations are all
sources of sexual harassment for LGB individuals (Szalacha, 2003). Given the multitude of other
stressors that they face, it stands to reason that the psychological impact of sexual assault and
harassment would be greater for sexual minority individuals compared to the impact of these
same stressors for heterosexual individuals.
Harm of Unequal Response: The Role of Institutions
Although they are faced with an elevated risk of harassment, assault, and intimidation,
LGB people are not always afforded equal options for protection or redress (e.g. police
responsiveness, Dworkin & Yi, 2003). Research of secondary schools indicates that institutional
attitudes of heterosexism (i.e., privileging heterosexual status as normal or desirable) predict
homophobic harassment as well as the availability for LGB support services and students’
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
5
satisfaction with those services (Chesir-Teran & Hughes, 2009). Conversely, schools that have
implemented programs such as gay-straight alliances have seen marked reductions in
homophobic bullying and increases in students’ perceptions of safety, tolerance, and respect
towards sexual minority students (Goodenow, Szalacha, & Westheimer, 2006; Szalacha, 2003)
This research points to the potentially protective power of institutional culture for LGB
students. However, less is understood about the impact of institutional responses to sexual
harassment and assault experienced by LGB individuals, particularly in environments where they
might expect to be safe or at least afforded options for support or redress if they do have these
experiences. A helpful framework for understanding the potential impact of the violation of these
expectations of safety or support is institutional betrayal (Smith & Freyd, 2013). Institutional
betrayal refers to wrongdoings perpetrated by an institution upon individuals dependent on that
institution, including failure to prevent or respond supportively to wrongdoings committed
within the context of the institution (Smith & Freyd, 2013).
Although there is a variety of ways in which institutional betrayal may co-occur with
sexual harassment or assault (see Smith & Freyd, 2014), some examples include an institution
failing to prevent these experiences (e.g., allowing individuals with prior allegations of sexual
assault into the institution with no safety checks), creating an environment where these
experiences are minimized (e.g., only characterizing violent rapes perpetrated by strangers as
legitimate sexual assault), or punishing individuals who report sexual assault (e.g., taking away
privileges or limiting opportunities). In the case of sexual harassment or assault experienced by
LGB individuals, institutional betrayal may also occur if they perceive the institutional
environment as one where they are more likely to be victimized due to their LGB status or
treated differently when they seek support due to lack of understanding of LGB issues or
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
6
discrimination both of which are common experiences of LGB individuals (Mayer et al.,
2008). Further, institutional betrayal often creates a sense of being a less valued member of an
institution due to experiencing or reporting a traumatic event (e.g., a veteran may feel like they
are at risk of being rejected by the military if they make a report of sexual assault; Smith &
Freyd, 2014). For LGB individuals, institutional betrayal is consistent with the notion of minority
stress in that it reifies homophobic or discriminatory attitudes as they pertain to sexual
harassment or assault institutional responses may suggest that the sexual violence occurred
because the individual is LGB or that their experiences are less valid or in need of support
because of their LGB identity (e.g., Mitchell, Ybarra, & Korchmaros, 2014).
Institutional betrayal has been linked with increased anxiety, depression, and dissociation
following sexual assault (Smith & Freyd, 2013). It is well established that LGB individuals are at
increased risk for sexual violence in general. It stands to reason that they are at increased risk for
institutional betrayal due to their higher exposure to traumatic event alone but possibly more so
due to their minority status and its intersection with sexual violence. Further, LGB individuals
may be more vulnerable to the harmful effects of institutional betrayal due to the cumulative toll
of minority stress. Taken together, these factors suggest that institutional betrayal has the
potential to explain some of the health disparities encountered by LGB individuals.
Hypotheses of Current Study
The present study explored the relationships between LGB status and the following
variables: sexual harassment and assault, institutional betrayal related to the assault, and
psychological outcomes. We have four main hypotheses: 1) LGB-identified individuals will
report more sexual harassment and assault than heterosexual individuals in accordance with prior
studies, 2) LGB individuals will report more negative psychological outcomes across several
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
7
important domains following both sexual harassment and assault than heterosexual individuals,
3) LGB individuals will report more institutional betrayal than heterosexual individuals even
controlling for higher rates of sexual assault and harassment, and 4) institutional betrayal will
account for unique variance in the relationship between sexual assault and harassment and
negative psychological outcomes for LGB participants.
Methods
Participants and Procedure
Participants were undergraduate psychology students at a large public university in the
Pacific Northwest. Participants received course credit for completing a series of web-based self-
report surveys and had no knowledge of the study topic prior to participating in order to reduce
selection bias. The university’s Office of Research Compliance approved the study and
participants indicated their informed consent to participate electronically. The sample consisted
of 299 undergraduates (59.9% female, 39.8% male, 0.3% transgender-identified). Consistent
with prior research estimating the percentage of the general population who identifies as LGB
between 3.5-10% (Gates & Newport, 2013), 9.7% of participants were LGB-identified (N = 29;
13 lesbian, 9 gay, 7 bisexual). The sample was mostly (69%) Caucasian, 11.2% Asian-
American/Pacific Islander, 7.7% Latino/a, 5.2% Black/African-American, and 6.9% indicating
other with no further response or not responding to this question. Ages ranged from 19 years to
25 years old.
Measures
Sexual harassment and assault. Experiences of sexual harassment and assault were
assessed with the Department of Defense Service Academies Sexual Assault (SASA) survey
(Lipari, Shaw, & Rock, 2005). The survey has been previously validated in military and military
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
8
university samples but has also been used in studies of civilian college students (Lipari, Shawk,
& Rock, 2005; Koss & Dinero, 1989). The SASA is designed to identify lifetime experiences of
behaviorally-specific sexual harassment and sexual assault (i.e., describing events that fit the
definition of sexual harassment rather than asking if respondents have been sexually harassed).
This includes questions about having experienced sexist behavior (e.g., “Has someone ever
referred to people of your gender in insulting or offensive terms?”), having experienced sexual
harassment (e.g., “Has someone ever repeatedly told sexual stories or jokes that were offensive
to you?”), and having experienced sexual assault (e.g., “Has someone ever had sex with you
without your consent or against your will?”. Responses included “yes” or “no” for each question
and responses were added up for a total severity score (scores could range from 0 to 28 with 16
sexual harassment items and 12 sexual assault items).
Institutional betrayal. Institutional betrayal was assessed using a modified version of
the Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire (IBQ; Smith & Freyd, 2013). The IBQ is designed to
measure institutional betrayal leading up to or after sexual assault and is given only to
participants who endorse at least one item on the SASA (via online survey display logic). Items
include seven questions about the role the institution played in the experience, such as “Did an
institution play a role by responding inadequately to the experience/s, if reported?” (Smith &
Freyd, 2013). Three additional items specifically examining the role of sexual orientation in
institutional betrayal were added: “Did an institution play a role by responding differently to the
situation based on your sexual orientation?”; “Did an institution play a role by creating an
environment in which you felt discriminated against based on your sexual orientation?”; and
“Did an institution play a role by expressing a biased or negative attitude toward you and/or the
situation based on your sexual orientation?” All participants saw these 10 items, regardless of
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
9
sexual orientation. Participants are asked to identify the type of institution they are describing in
a free-response and provided with examples (e.g., school, church, workplace).
Traumatic symptoms. The PTSD Checklist Civilian Version (PCL-C) is a 17-item
scale used to measure the key symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (Ruggerio, Del Ben,
Scotti, & Rabalais, 2003). The PCL-C was originally developed for use with former military
population, but has since been validated in many other samples, including college students where
PCL-C scores correlate with measures of other measures of PTSD symptoms, anxiety, social
functioning (Conybeare et al., 2012). The scale demonstrated excellent reliability in the current
study, α = 0.96. Respondents were asked if they have experienced post-traumatic stress
symptoms such as hyper-alertness and nightmares in the past month (e.g, “How much have you
been bothered by… repeated, disturbing dreams of a stressful experience from the past”). The
response scale ranged from 1 (not at all) to 5 (extremely). The items were then added up for a
total severity score with possible scores ranging from 17 to 85.
Depression. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D), originally
developed to study depression symptoms in the general population, was used to assess symptoms
of depression in participants. The CES-D demonstrated excellent reliability in this study, α =
0.92 (Radloff, 1977). The CES-D is a 20-item scale that inquires about depression symptoms
within the last week, such as sadness, crying spells, and poor appetite (e.g., “I felt that I could not
shake off the blues even with the help of my family or friends”). Scores on the CES-D correlate
with other scales measuring symptoms of mood disorders as well as ability to meet life demands
(Radloff, 1977). Response options for each item were on a 4-point scale ranging from 0 (rarely
or none of the time) to 3 (all of the time). Higher scores on the scale indicated higher levels of
depression, with possible scores ranging from 0 to 60.
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
10
Collective self-esteem. Collective self-esteem was measured using an adapted version of
the Collective Self-Esteem Scale (Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992). The 16-item scale measures
questions about group identity and group self-worth, such as “I am a worthy member of the
social groups I belong to” (Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992). Previously, researchers succeeded in
adapting the scale for specific social groups such as racial and ethnic groups and found that each
subscale differentially relates to personal self-esteem (Crocker, Luhtanen, Blaine, & Broadnax,
1994). Therefore, the scale was adapted to specifically apply to sexual orientation; for example,
“I am a worthy member of the sexual identity group I belong to.” Response options for each item
were on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Scores were
averaged within each the four subscales of the measure (4 items each), including membership
self-esteem, private collective self-esteem, public collective self-esteem, and importance to
identity (Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992). Each subscale demonstrated adequate reliability:
membership self-esteem α = 0.70; private collective self-esteem, α = 0.73; public collective self-
esteem, α = 0.80; and importance to identity, α = 0.70. Higher scores indicated higher collective
self-esteem, with possible scores ranging from 1 to 4
Data Analysis
As our hypotheses regarding the associations between sexual orientation and sexual
harassment and assault, institutional betrayal, and psychological outcomes (i.e., PTSD and
depression symptoms, collective and individual self-esteem, and risky sexual behavior) were
strongly directional in nature (e.g., LGB status predicting more sexual harassment and assault,
more PTSD and depression symptoms), one-tailed tests were conducted with a corrected alpha of
0.10 (i.e., traditional significance values of p < .05 indicate that an acceptable errors may include
either negative or positive correlations). Because our hypothesis would not be supported if our
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
11
results were “significant” where LGB status predicts less sexual harassment and assault or less
PTSD and depression symptoms, all 5% of the acceptable error is at one end of the distribution,
which is represented in a p-value of < 0.10.
Because of the unequal sample sizes in the heterosexual and LGB groups, concerns about
inequality of variances arose as a much smaller sample is a less reliable estimate of the
population variance, thus a Levene’s test for equality of variance in the two samples was
conducted (Gatsworth, Gel, & Miao, 2009). When Levene’s tests indicated that the assumptions
of equality of variance had not been met, corrected t-test results (i.e., ones that do not rely on the
assumption of equality of variances or homoscedasticity) are reported with adjusted degrees of
freedom. Effect sizes were calculated for each of these tests using Cohen’s d, which are less
affected by sample size or sample size differences (Slavin & Smith, 2009).
In order to examine the unique effect of sexual orientation in predicting institutional
betrayal (i.e. controlling first for the effect of sexual harassment and assault), hierarchical
multiple regression was used to determine the relationship between sexual orientation and
institutional betrayal while controlling for unwanted sexual experiences. This analysis was
chosen due to the fact that the variables were theoretically predicted to each account for unique
variance, given what is known about the relative effects of interpersonal violence and
institutional betrayal from prior research (Petrocelli, 2003). Because we added three items to the
IBQ that likely pertain only to LGB participants, the relationship between sexual orientation and
institutional betrayal was also examined using the institutional betrayal score with all of the
questions specifically related to sexual orientation removed. A multiple regression model with an
interaction between institutional betrayal and sexual violence was tested to examine whether
institutional betrayal increases the severity of psychological outcomes.
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
12
Results
Sexual harassment and assault. As hypothesized, LGB participants reported
significantly more experiences of sexual harassment than heterosexual participants. Additionally,
LGB participants reported significantly more experiences of sexual assault than heterosexual
participants (see Table 1).
Psychological outcomes. Also in keeping with hypothesis, overall PTSD scores on the
PCL-C were significantly higher for LGB participants than heterosexual participants (see Table
1). Additionally, LGB status predicted higher PTSD scores over and above unwanted sexual
experiences, F(2, 296) = 13.32, p = .008, R2 change = .02, p = .02. Additionally, LGB
participants’ depression scores were significantly higher than heterosexual participants’
depression scores. LGB status predicted depression scores above and beyond unwanted sexual
experiences, F(2, 296) = 10.02, p = .005, R2 change = .02, p = .01.
Self-esteem. As hypothesized, LGB participants reported lower self-esteem related to
their sexual orientation on three of the four subscales of the Collective Self-Esteem Scale. This
includes significantly lower membership self-esteem, public collective self-esteem, and private
collective self-esteem. Importance of sexual orientation to identity did not differ significantly
across sexual orientations (see Table 1).
Institutional Betrayal. Consistent with our final hypothesis, LGB respondents reported
higher rates of institutional betrayal, even when controlling for increased numbers of unwanted
sexual experiences. Institutional betrayal was higher in LGB participants even with the questions
specifically pertaining to sexual orientation removed (see Table 1). Of the participants who
described what kind of institution had engaged in the betrayal, all of those indicated by the LGB
participants were school or university-related and included the university or a school in general
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
13
(62% of responses best fit into this category), a school organization (23%), or student-related
services (15%).
Our fourth hypothesis was not fully supported; a hierarchical multiple regression
examining the relationships between sexual assault, institutional betrayal, and PTSD did not find
a significant interaction between sexual assault and institutional betrayal, t(297) = -1.37, p = .17.
However, in this model institutional betrayal was a unique predictor of PTSD scores, t(297) =
2.35, p = .05. Similarly, a hierarchical multiple regression examining the relationships between
sexual assault, institutional betrayal, and depression did not find a significant interaction between
sexual assault and depression, t(297) = -1.1, p = .27. Institutional betrayal uniquely predicted
depression in this model, t(297) = 2.11, p < .05. Given that LGB status predicted both increased
negative psychological outcomes (depression and PTSD scores) as well as institutional betrayal,
we tested a mediational model in which institutional betrayal explained the relationship between
LGB status and these negative psychological outcomes (Baron & Kenny, 1986). We found that
institutional betrayal partially mediated the relationship between LGB status and both depression
and PTSD scores (see Table 2).
Discussion
This study further documented the heightened risk LGB individuals experience in regards
to sexual trauma as well as negative psychological outcomes compared to heterosexual
individuals. The college students in the current study also demonstrated group differences in
collective self-esteem that were consistent with a minority stress model. Additionally, the results
found that LGB survivors perceive more institutional betrayal than heterosexual survivors, even
controlling for heightened risk for sexual trauma. Results are discussed in terms of implications
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
14
for LGB college students’ well-being and institutional betrayal as a potential source for added
minority stress.
Institutional betrayal and LGB college students
When participants described institutional betrayal in this study, they overwhelmingly
(62%) indicated that a school of university was the institution that had been the source of
wrongdoing failing to prevent, or responding inadequately to reports of sexual violence. LGB
participants reported more sexual harassment, more sexual assault, and more institutional
betrayal than their heterosexual peers. For LGB participants, institutional betrayal uniquely
predicted psychological distress including post-traumatic stress and depression symptoms.
Although there were three items added to the IBQ that specifically assessed LGB students’
impression that their sexual orientation was related to institutional responses (e.g., “Did an
institution play a role by responding differently to the situation based on your sexual
orientation?”), these items alone did not account for the added harm experienced by LGB
students following sexual violence. Taken together, these results indicate that institutional
betrayal related to sexual violence may represent a source of discrimination against LGB
students within their universities. Thus, institutional betrayal related to sexual violence may be
investigated as a form of increased environmental threat to sexual minority individuals,
consistent with the minority stress framework (Meyer, 2003).
Institutional betrayal and minority stress
The high rates of post-traumatic stress symptoms reported by LGB students following
sexual violence is consistent with prior work that linked discrimination (based on race) to
posttraumatic symptoms such as avoidance of reminders of traumatic experiences and
physiological hyperarousal (Bryant-Davis & Ocampo, 2005). The risk that LGB students may
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
15
internalize this discrimination and begin to see their sexual orientation as a source of shame
rather than pride was assessed via measures of collective self-esteem. Although this is a cross-
sectional study, which limits our ability to draw causal links, LGB students reported lower
public collective self-esteem, lower private collective self-esteem, and lower membership self-
esteem. This indicates that not only do LGB students feel that others look down on their sexual
orientation in comparison with heterosexuality, they are also evaluating their sexual identity
group lower than heterosexuals do, which is consistent with research that LGB individuals
internalize prejudice against their sexual identity group (e.g., Peterson & Garrity, 2006).
Clinically, these results have implications for LGB students who may seek services at
university counseling centers or turn to university services for support. Although all students
may face the risk of additional institutional betrayal when seeking services from the institution
where they were victimized, LGB students face added risk if they are met with staff who are not
educated on the link between sexual orientation and victimization (Dworkin & Yi, 2003;
McFarland, 2001). Further, the link between sexual orientation and self-esteem or mental health
is deeply colored by societal discrimination (e.g., Meyer, 2003; Peterson & Gerrity, 2006) and
university staff who work with LGB students may inadvertently uphold stereotypes or fail to
create a truly protective environment for LGB students if services are geared towards
heterosexual students alone (Goodenow et al., 2006).
Limitations
An important consideration with regards to these analyses is that this study was based
entirely on self-report measures collected at a single time point. There are at least two potential
limitation of this method of data collection. First, although participants were assured their
identities could not be linked to their responses, may be prone to social desirability bias, which in
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
16
this study may encompass a willingness to identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, even if this
description might fit their actual orientation and/or behavior. Notably, this would have
introduced error into the between-group analyses, which would have weakened our results (i.e.,
students in the heterosexual group who would more accurately be identified as LGB would likely
decrease the apparent differences between the two groups). Second, the theoretical framework of
both institutional betrayal and minority stress are causal in nature that these sources of chronic
stress cause psychosocial distress experienced by LGB individuals (Baams, Grossman, &
Russell, 2015; Meyer, 2003). Although the current study can contribute to this body of work by
introducing a source of minority stress in the form of institutional betrayal, truly causal
attributions would require a longitudinal design that assessed psychological health and collective
self-esteem before and after experiencing institutional betrayal.
Final, the sample itself introduced limitations. There were a small number of LGB
students compared to the number of heterosexual students. Although this is consistent with
demographics on campus, it limits the scope of statistical modeling. Further, the sample was
limited to undergraduates enrolled in a psychology course at a public university in the Pacific
Northwest, who are not representative of the general population across many domains including
age, socio-economic statues, and in the case of the current sample, race. Therefore, the results of
the current study may be best understood as reflecting the experiences of a somewhat narrow
range of college students.
Additionally, all of the LGB participants who gave information about the institution they
were describing on the IBQ indicated a school or an organization that could be related to a
school (e.g., a club). Although some responses were vague (e.g., student services), it is possible
that all of these participants were referring to the university where these data were collected.
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
17
Therefore, it may be that the prevalence and impact of institutional betrayal is unique to this
setting. Although the broader body of research related to sexual violence and discrimination
among sexual minorities indicates that this is unlikely a problem confined to the university at
hand, this work would benefit from added study across multiple sites.
Finally, the current study examined a sample of undergraduates who were grouped based
on holding a minority sexual identity and combined across these identities (i.e., LGB together).
An increasingly robust literature is focused on understanding the intersection of sexual violence
and institutional response on transgender individuals (e.g., Mayer et al., 2008; Robinson &
Espelage, 2013). Transgender individuals appeared to be underrepresented in the current sample
(i.e., we do not know whether some of the individuals who chose ‘male’ or ‘female’ may have
also been transgender). Purposefully sampling participants who identify as transgender is key to
understand the experiences of transgender college students who may or may not also hold a
minority sexual identity.
Conclusion
The present study underscores the heightened risk faced by LGB individuals for sexual
violence and unsupportive institutional environments. Both of these present risk to the mental
and social wellbeing of LGB people, but together they present a picture of the world where LGB
individuals cannot expect the same safety and support as their heterosexual peers. Although
institutions such as universities are increasingly making public efforts to protect and support
LGB students, there is clearly unmet needs when it comes to sexual violence.
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
18
References
Baams, L., Grossman, A. H., & Russell, S. T. (2015). Minority stress and mechanisms of risk for
depression and suicidal ideation among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Developmental
Psychology, 51, 688696. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0038994
Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social
psychological research: Conceptual, strategic and statistical considerations. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173-1182.
Brown, L, & Pantalone, D. (2011). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues in trauma
psychology: a topic comes out of the closet. Traumatology, 17(2), 1-3.
Bryant-Davis, T., & Ocampo, C. (2005). Racist-incident-based trauma. The Counseling
Psychologist, 33, 479500. doi:10.1177/0011000005276465
Conybeare, D., Behar, E., Solomon, A., Newman, M.G., & Borkovec, T. D. (2012). The PTSD
ChecklistCivilian Version: Reliability, validity, and factor structure in a nonclinical
sample. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68(6), 699-713.
Crocker, J., Luhtanen, R., Blaine, B., & Broadnax, S. (1994). Collective self-esteem and
psychological well-being among White, Black, and Asian college students. Personality
and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 502-513. DOI: 10.1177/0146167294205007
Dworkin, S. H., & Yi, H. (2003). LGBT identity, violence, and social justice: The psychological
is political. International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling, 25, 269279.
http://doi.org/10.1023/B:ADCO.0000005526.87218.9f
Gastwirth, J. L., Gel, Y. R., & Miao, W. (2009). The impact of Levene’s test of equality of
variances on statistical theory and practice. Statistical Science, 24, 343360.
http://doi.org/10.1214/09-STS301
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
19
Gates, G.J., & Newport, F. (2013, February 15). LGBT percentage highest in D.C., lowest in
North Dakota. Gallup. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/160517/lgbt-
percentage-highest-lowest-north-dakota.aspx
Goodenow, C., Szalacha, L., & Westheimer, K. (2006). School support groups, other school
factors, and the safety of sexual minority adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 43(5),
573589. http://doi.org/10.1002/pits.20173
Koss, M. P., & Dinero, T. E. (1989). Discriminant analysis of risk factors for sexual
victimization among a national sample of college women. Journal of Consulting and
Clinical Psychology, 57(2), 242-250.
Lipari, R.N., Shaw, M.N., Rock, L.M. (2005). Measurement of sexual harassment and sexual
assault across three U.S. military populations. Conference sponsor: International Military
Testing Association, Singapore.
Luhtanen, R., & Crocker, J. (1992). A collective self-esteem scale: Self-evaluation of one's social
identity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 302-318.
Mayer, K. H., Bradford, J. B., Makadon, H. J., Stall, R., Goldhammer, H., & Landers, S. (2008).
Sexual and gender minority health: What we know and what needs to be done. American
Journal of Public Health, 98, 989995. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2007.127811
McFarland, W. P. (2001). The legal duty to protect gay and lesbian students from violence in
school. Professional School Counseling, 4(3), 171-182.
Meyer, I. H. (1995). Minority stress and mental health in gay men. Journal of Health and Social
Behavior, 36, 38-56.
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
20
Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual
populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674-
697. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.129.5.674
Meyer, I. H., Schwartz, S., & Frost, D. M. (2008). Social patterning of stress and coping: Does
disadvantaged social statuses confer more stress and fewer coping resources? Social
Science & Medicine, 67, 368-379. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.03.012
Mitchell, K. J., Ybarra, M. L., & Korchmaros, J. D. (2014). Sexual harassment among
adolescents of different sexual orientations and gender identities. Child Abuse & Neglect,
38(2), 280295. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.09.008
Peterson, T. L., & Gerrity, D. A. (2006). Internalized homophobia, lesbian identity development,
and self-esteem in undergraduate women. Journal of Homosexuality, 50(4), 4975.
http://doi.org/10.1300/J082v50n04_03
Petrocelli, J. V. (2003). Hierarchical multiple regression in counseling research: Common
problems and possible remedies. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and
Development, 36, 922.
Radloff, L.S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general
population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385-401.
Remafedi, G., French, S., Story, M., Resnick, M. D., & Blum, R. (1998). The relationship
between suicide risk and sexual orientation: Results of a population-based study.
American Journal of Public Health, 88(1), 5760.
Robinson, J. P., & Espelage, D. L. (2013). Peer victimization and sexual risk differences between
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning and nontransgender heterosexual
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
21
youths in grades 712. American Journal of Public Health, 103, 18101819.
http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301387
Rothman, E.F., Exner, D., & Baughman, A. (2011). The prevalence of sexual assault against
people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the United States: A systematic
review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 12(2), 55-66.
Ruggerio, K.J, Del Ben, K., Scotti, J.R., & Rabalais, A.E. (2003). Psychometric properties of the
PTSD Checklist Civilian Version. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16(5), 495-502.
Slavin, R., & Smith, D. (2009). The relationship between sample sizes and effect sizes in
systematic reviews in education. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 31, 500
506. http://doi.org/10.3102/0162373709352369
Smith, D. W., Davis, J. L., & Fricker-Elhai, A. E. (2004). How does trauma beget trauma?
Cognitions about risk in women with abuse histories. Child Maltreatment, 9, 292-303.
doi: 10.1177/1077559504266524
Smith, C. P., & Freyd, J. J. (2013). Dangerous safe havens: Institutional betrayal
exacerbates sexual trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26, 119-124.
Smith, C. P., & Freyd, J. J. (2014). Institutional betrayal. American Psychologist, 69, 575587.
http://doi.org/10.1037/a0037564
Szalacha, L. A. (2003). Safer sexual diversity climates: Lessons learned from an evaluation of
Massachusetts safe schools program for gay and lesbian students. American Journal of
Education, 110(1), 5888. http://doi.org/10.1086/377673
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
22
Table 1. Group differences between LGB and Heterosexual participants
Measure
LGB1
Heterosexual
t
p
d
Effect size
M
SD
M
SD
Sex Harass3
8.12
5.02
5.61
4.20
3.02
.002
.59
Medium
Sex. Assault3
2.41
3.39
1.32
3.39
1.71
.09
.53
Medium
PCL-C4
38.30
16.80
29.00
14.10
2.88
.001
.65
Medium
CES-D5
21.83
12.20
15.30
10.77
3.04
.002
.60
Medium
Self-Esteem6
Membership
3.92
0.87
4.27
0.91
1.94
.05
.38
Small
Public
3.79
1.22
5.76
1.07
9.24
<.001
1.82
Large
Private
4.96
1.25
5.77
1.05
3.92
<.001
.77
Medium
Importance
3.89
1.23
3.75
1.28
.61
.55
.12
--
IBQ-SO7
2.38
2.60
0.92
1.78
2.98
.004
.53
Medium
IBQ8
1.77
2.82
0.80
1.90
2.33
.01
.58
Medium
Note: 1Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual participants; 2Corrected effect size reported where used;
3Department of Defense Service Academies Sexual Assault survey; 4Post-traumatic Checklist
- Civilian version; 5Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale; 6Subscales of
Collective Self-Esteem: Membership, Public Collective, Private Collective, Importance of
Sexual Orientation to Identity; 7Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire with sexual orientation
items; 8Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire without sexual orientation items
INSTITUTIONAL BETRAYAL AND LGB STUDENTS
23
Table 2. Mediational Analyses
* p<.05 ** p<.01
Depression (CES-D)
PTSD (PCL-C)
B
SE B
Beta
Δ R2
B
SE B
Beta
Δ R2
Regression
Step 1:
.04**
.04**
LGB Status
6.55
2.15
0.17**
9.34
2.81
0.19**
Step 2:
.02*
.03**
LGB Status
5.26
2.19
0.14*
7.38
2.85
0.15*
Institutional
Betrayal
0.88
0.24
0.15**
1.34
0.44
0.18**
... Victimization of Sexual Minority Students. Study findings indicated that sexual minorities experienced higher rates of SRV and more types of victimization than heterosexual students (e.g., Backhaus et al., 2019;Palmer et al., 2022;Potter et al., 2020;Richardson et al., 2015;Smith et al., 2016). Bisexual cisgender women experienced higher rates of SRV than heterosexual or lesbian cisgender women (e.g., Blosnich & Bossarte, 2012;Eisenberg et al., 2021;Ford & Soto-Marquez, 2016;Mellins et al., 2017;Moschella et al., 2020;Seabrook et al., 2018). ...
... Behavioral and Physical Health Problems. Several studies described higher levels of mental health issues including depression and suicidality (Backhaus et al., 2019;Parr, 2020;Smith et al., 2016;Zavala, 2017), post-traumatic stress disorder (Kammer-Kerwick et al., 2019;Parr, 2020;Smith et al., 2016), substance use (McCauley et al., 2020), and lower life satisfaction Potter et al., 2020) among sexual minorities compared to cisgender heterosexual women. In a study focused on cisgender women experiencing same-sex relationship violence, the researchers found high levels of dependency and emotional instability within participants' intimate partner relationships (Bloom et al., 2016). ...
... Behavioral and Physical Health Problems. Several studies described higher levels of mental health issues including depression and suicidality (Backhaus et al., 2019;Parr, 2020;Smith et al., 2016;Zavala, 2017), post-traumatic stress disorder (Kammer-Kerwick et al., 2019;Parr, 2020;Smith et al., 2016), substance use (McCauley et al., 2020), and lower life satisfaction Potter et al., 2020) among sexual minorities compared to cisgender heterosexual women. In a study focused on cisgender women experiencing same-sex relationship violence, the researchers found high levels of dependency and emotional instability within participants' intimate partner relationships (Bloom et al., 2016). ...
Article
Although there has been increased attention to campus sexual and relationship violence (SRV) because of Title IX and the #MeToo movement, much of that attention has focused on victimization of cisgender heterosexual women. This scoping review uncovers information from empirical studies on what is known about LGBTQ+ (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and nonbinary) students' experiences of campus SRV. Using rigorous scoping review methods (i.e., searches of 15 databases, searches of expert websites, hand searching, reference harvesting, and forward citation chaining), we identified 60 documents published since 2000 that contained findings from empirical studies related to LGBTQ+ students and SRV on U.S. college and university campuses. Through content analysis, we summarized findings around five key themes: (1) extent and types of victimization, (2) negative outcomes, (3) knowledge of and attitudes about SRV, (4) perspectives on SRV services and prevention education programs, and (5) recommendations from study authors based on their findings. Implications for research, practice, and policy based on these findings are discussed.
... Indeed, rape is estimated to cost US$122,461 per victim in the US, attributed to impaired health, lost productivity, and criminal legal costs (Peterson et al., 2017). Some research also suggests that outcomes associated with sexual assault victimization are worse for SGM victims than heterosexual, cisgender victims Sigurvinsdottir & Ullman, 2016;Smith et al., 2016), which could be due to concerns about health care providers' ability to provide affirming, culturally grounded services as well as concerns about reifying negative stereotypes about the LGBTA+ community (Coston, 2019;Donne et al., 2018;Ollen et al., 2017). ...
... Indeed, rape is estimated to cost US$122,461 per victim in the US, attributed to impaired health, lost productivity, and criminal legal costs (Peterson et al., 2017). Some research also suggests that outcomes associated with sexual assault victimization are worse for SGM victims than heterosexual, cisgender victims Sigurvinsdottir & Ullman, 2016;Smith et al., 2016), which could be due to concerns about health care providers' ability to provide affirming, culturally grounded services as well as concerns about reifying negative stereotypes about the LGBTA+ community (Coston, 2019;Donne et al., 2018;Ollen et al., 2017). ...
... Sexual and gender minority victims of sexual assault reported receiving both positive and negative social reactions to their disclosures (Jackson et al., 2017). Whereas one study found that bisexual women reported more positive social reactions to sexual assault disclosure than heterosexual, cisgender women (Sigurvinsdottir & Ullman, 2016), another study found that bisexual women reported less positive social reactions to disclosure than heterosexual, cisgender individuals . Further, two studies found that bisexual women receive more negative social reactions than heterosexual, cisgender women (Sigurvinsdottir & Ullman, 2015. ...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual assault is common in sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals, but few studies have examined SGM victims’ disclosure experiences. This systematic review identified 13 studies through searches of research databases on SGM populations with sexual victimization. These studies showed wide variation in disclosure rates, various barriers to disclosure, and psychological impacts of social reactions to disclosure on SGM individuals. Bisexual women were more likely to disclose to formal (e.g., police, healthcare providers) and informal (e.g., friends, family members) sources than other women, and SGM victims disclose to mental health professionals at particularly high rates. Sexual and gender minority victims also reported numerous barriers to disclosure, including those unique to SGM individuals (e.g., fear of being outed). Impacts of negative social reactions appear to be more negative on psychological symptoms of SGM victims, whereas positive reactions are helpful to recovery. Future research is needed taking an intersectional perspective to studying disclosure and social reactions to SGM individuals from both college and community samples, by examining both sexual minority and racial/ethnic identities in the context of intersectional minority stress theory. Studies are needed of both correlates and consequences of disclosures to both informal and formal support sources to better understand SGM individuals’ reasons for telling and not telling various support sources and the impacts of their disclosure experiences on their recovery. Such data is also needed to inform interventions seeking to identify and intervene with support network members and professionals to reduce negative social reactions and their psychosocial impacts and to increase positive social reactions and general social support from informal support sources.
... Regardless of the setting or circumstances under which institutional betrayal occurs, research suggests that individuals who perceive they are victims of institutional betrayal face a number of psychological and behavioral consequences. Those who have endured institutional betrayal experience a particular type of trauma referred to as betrayal trauma that is associated with more severe post-trauma sequalae such as increases in posttraumatic stress symptoms, anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts following an incident of violence (Monteith et al., 2016;Smidt et al., 2021;Smith, Cunningham & Freyd, 2016). Moreover, the lack of trust that follows institutional betrayal often results in individuals disengaging from the institution that is responsible (Smith, 2017). ...
... In fact, Cramer et al. (2018) specifically called for future research to examine the impact of institutional betrayal on the underreporting of hate crimes. In addition, while some research has found that members of the LGB community have more experiences of institutional betrayal than heterosexual individuals (Smidt et al., 2021;Smith, Cunningham & Freyd, 2016), to our knowledge no research has looked at the institutional betrayal experiences of transgender individuals. The current study seeks to not only explore the hate crime experiences of members of transgender communities, but also their reasons for underreporting. ...
Article
Full-text available
Research shows that the LGBTQ population is disproportionately affected by hate crimes and those against transgender individuals are especially violent. Given the considerable underreporting of these crimes, better insight into the victimization experiences and reasons for underreporting is necessary to improve the safety of the transgender community and secure necessary services for these victims. The current study takes a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach by creating and utilizing an Advisory Board made up of service providers in the transgender community in Los Angeles, to assist in the development of a survey instrument and focus group questions and provide venues for the focus groups. The study examines results from a short survey and five focus groups with transgender individuals on their experiences of hate crimes and reporting activities. Results indicate nearly all participants experienced some type of hate incident or crime based on their gender identity and/or expression. Almost half of the respondents did not report these crimes to the police because they did not think police would do anything, were afraid of being arrested, or were afraid of being victimized by the police. Narrative accounts describe mostly, though not entirely, negative encounters with the police and how participants take preventative measures to reduce their potential for hate-based victimization. Based on our findings several recommendations have been made to help improve relations between transgender communities and law enforcement with the goal of creating a safer environment for transgender individuals and increasing the reporting of hate crimes.
... Boal and colleagues (2017) found that this scale is valid in an online, self-administered format. Although no validation study focused on sexual minorities was found, ample studies have studied sexual minorities using the PTSD Checklist (e.g., Dworkin et al., 2018;MacLeod et al., 2015;Pinciotti & Orcutt, 2021;Smith et al., 2016). ...
Article
In a given year, between 3 and 10% of women attending college will experience a completed rape. Unfortunately, when college survivors seek help following rape, representatives from their university may respond inadequately or harmfully, such as by blaming them, failing to provide adequate support and accommodations, or by minimizing the assault. The failures of an institution to protect its members from harm has been termed institutional betrayal (IB). The present study sought to examine college women rape survivors' (n = 28) experiences with disclosing to three types of campus resources: confidential sources (e.g., counselor), mandated reporters (e.g., faculty member), and Title IX and/or police via examination of their quantitative ratings of IB and institutional support, as well as via thematic analysis of their written help seeking narratives (n = 19). Results support that those who disclosed to Title IX and/or police reported the greatest amount of IB, and there was a trend for those who disclosed to a confidential source to report more support. Thematic analysis revealed four IB themes and two institutional support themes. Implications of findings for university sexual assault prevention and response efforts are discussed.
Article
The prevalence of experiencing sexual assault is alarmingly high among Transgender and Gender Diverse people (TGD; people whose gender identities and/or expressions are not traditionally associated with their sex assigned at birth) and is associated with various mental health sequalae. Perceived social support has been shown to abate the negative outcomes of sexual assault among cisgender individuals, yet little is known about this association among TGD people, especially which provider of support (i.e., family, friends, or significant others) may be most beneficial. To that end, 191 TGD adults were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to examine perceived social support as a potential moderator of the association between sexual assault victimization and post-sexual assault trauma symptomology. Results showed an interaction trending toward significance between sexual assault and support from a significant other. Decomposition of this interaction demonstrated that sexual assault was associated with post-assault trauma symptoms when support from a significant other was low (ß = .25, p < .05) but not high (ß = .10, p = .089). The interaction between sexual assault and perceived social support was not significant for perceived support from friends ( p = .133) or family ( p = .954). Findings highlight the need for additional research on perceived social support as a potential buffering mechanism between sexual assault and post-assault symptomology in TGD people.
Article
Sexual orientation is considered from Savin-Williams’ continuum perspective, and gender and sexual orientation are both conceptualized from a fluid, rather than a categorical viewpoint. A Minority Stress Model is applied to the experience of LGBTQ+ communities, whereby stress reactions relate to concerns about one’s safety, discrimination, oppression, and internalized oppression, among many other negative mental and physical health outcomes. Proximal and distal stressors are presented in conjunction with the Minority Stress Model and applied to several domains illustrating community gaps and interventions in academic, legislative, religious, economic, medical, social, and social-environmental realms. Key policies are presented supporting greater rights for LGBTQ+ communities. Despite these advances, significant gaps remain with regard to responsiveness to the needs of LGBTQ+ communities. A case study highlights adverse effects and policy regarding conversion therapy.
Article
Full-text available
In this article the author reviews research evidence on the prevalence of mental disorders in lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGBs) and shows, using meta-analyses, that LGBs have a higher prevalence of mental disorders than heterosexuals. The author offers a conceptual framework for understanding this excess in prevalence of disorder in terms of minority stress— explaining that stigma, prejudice, and discrimination create a hostile and stressful social environment that causes mental health problems. The model describes stress processes, including the experience of prejudice events, expectations of rejection, hiding and concealing, internalized homophobia, and ameliorative coping processes. This conceptual framework is the basis for the review of research evidence, suggestions for future research directions, and exploration of public policy implications.
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we attempt to distinguish between the properties of moderator and mediator variables at a number of levels. First, we seek to make theorists and researchers aware of the importance of not using the terms moderator and mediator interchangeably by carefully elaborating, both conceptually and strategically, the many ways in which moderators and mediators differ. We then go beyond this largely pedagogical function and delineate the conceptual and strategic implications of making use of such distinctions with regard to a wide range of phenomena, including control and stress, attitudes, and personality traits. We also provide a specific compendium of analytic procedures appropriate for making the most effective use of the moderator and mediator distinction, both separately and in terms of a broader causal system that includes both moderators and mediators. (46 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
A college freshman reports a sexual assault and is met with harassment and insensitive investigative practices leading to her suicide. Former grade school students, now grown, come forward to report childhood abuse perpetrated by clergy, coaches, and teachers-first in trickles and then in waves, exposing multiple perpetrators with decades of unfettered access to victims. Members of the armed services elect to stay quiet about sexual harassment and assault during their military service or risk their careers by speaking up. A Jewish academic struggles to find a name for the systematic destruction of his people in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. These seemingly disparate experiences have in common trusted and powerful institutions (schools, churches, military, government) acting in ways that visit harm upon those dependent on them for safety and well-being. This is institutional betrayal. The purpose of this article is to describe psychological research that examines the role of institutions in traumatic experiences and psychological distress following these experiences. We demonstrate the ways in which institutional betrayal has been left unseen by both the individuals being betrayed as well as the field of psychology and introduce means by which to identify and address this betrayal. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Full-text available
Social identity theory as developed by Tajfel and Turner argues that there are two distinct aspects of the self-concept: personal identity and social identity (in American terminology, collective identity). Although many self-esteem measures are available in the literature, they allfocus on individuals'evaluation of their personal identity, whether in private or interpersonal domains. No scale currently exists that assesses the positivity of one's social, or collective, identity. A scale was constructed to assess individual differences in collective, rather than personal, self-esteem, with four subscales (Membership esteem, Public collective self-esteem, Private collective self-esteem, and Importance to Identity). Evidence for reliability and validity of the scale was provided by three studies, suggesting that the scale can be a useful research tool. Implications for research and social identity theory are discussed.
Article
This article investigates students' perceptions of the sexual diversity climate (SDC) in Massachusetts secondary schools, based on the implementation of the recommendations of the Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students (SSP). Data were collected from 1,646 students in a stratified random sample of 33 schools. There were statistically significant positive differences in SDC where one or more of the SSP recommendations were implemented, with differential effects by gender. This study is designed to provide information to other states, municipalities, school systems, high schools, and individual teachers on ways to establish safer sexual diversity climates in schools to benefit all students.
Article
The experience of minority stress is often named as a cause for mental health disparities among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth, including higher levels of depression and suicidal ideation. The processes or mechanisms through which these disparities occur are understudied. The interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide posits 2 key mechanisms for suicidal ideation: perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness (Joiner et al., 2009). The aim of the current study is to assess the mental health and adjustment among LGB youth emphasizing the minority stress model (Meyer, 2003) and the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide (Joiner et al., 2009). With a survey of 876 LGB self-identified youth, levels of coming-out stress, sexual orientation victimization, perceived burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness, depression, and suicidal ideation were examined. The results of a multigroup mediation model show that for all gender and sexual identity groups, the association of sexual orientation victimization with depression and suicidal ideation was mediated by perceived burdensomeness. For gay, lesbian, and bisexual girls coming-out stress was also found to be related to depression and suicidal ideation, mediated by perceived burdensomeness. The results suggest that feeling like a burden to "people in their lives" is a critical mechanism in explaining higher levels of depression and suicidal ideation among LGB youth. These results have implications for community and social support groups, many of which base their interventions on decreasing social isolation rather than addressing youths' beliefs of burdensomeness. Implications for future research, clinical and community settings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
This issue of the journal of Traumatology focuses on the psychology of trauma in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). LGBT people are more likely to be abused in their families of origin than are their heterosexual siblings. Rates of intimate partner violence appear to equal those found in heterosexual couples, but resources for both victims and perpetrators of such violence in same-sex pairs are few or nonexistent in most locales. One of the articles provides evidence from an Internet sample of more than 1,100 sexual and gender minority individuals, that both experiences of interpersonal trauma and sexual discrimination were associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in suicidal and non suicidal self-injury. Another article deals with the political and social discrimination faced by sexual and gender minority individuals. More and more sophisticated and thoughtful research about such questions as the relationship between lifetime trauma exposure, particularly trauma exposure that has been linked to an individuals LGBT status, and a range of mental health outcomes, will allow us to design interventions that are culturally competent, evidence based and effective. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This article reviews the statistical evidence of LGBT violence in the United States and in the world. In the United States the statistics are from Amnesty International and the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. Statistics and other information about LGBT violence in other countries of the world come from many different sources. Reasons why this violence exists and international human rights responses are reviewed. The authors argue for a greater role for mental health organizations in the amelioration of prejudice against LGBT people and for more involvement of these organizations in social justice issues around the world. The article concludes with recommendations for future directions.
Article
Racist incidents are potentially traumatizing forms of victimization that may lead to increased psychiatric and psychophysiological symptoms in targets. The magnitude of the problem of racist incidents in the United States is difficult to estimate; however, data from several sources permit the inference that the prevalence of racist incidents, particularly among people of color, is high. This article (a) distinguishes traumatic stress from nontraumatic stress and (b) draws parallels between experiences of racist incidents and experiences that are acknowledged to be traumatic, such as rape or domestic violence. Conceptualizing the symptoms of some survivors of racist incidents as trauma responses may help inform treatment when these individuals are clients in psychotherapy.
Article
This article examines (a) variation in rates of sexual harassment across mode (e.g., in-person, online) and type of harassment, (b) the impact of sexual harassment (i.e., distressing vs. non-distressing), and (c) how sexual harassment is similarly and differently experienced across sexual orientation and gender identity groups. Data were collected as part of the Teen Health and Technology online survey of 5,907 13 to 18 year-old Internet users in the United States. Past year sexual harassment was reported by 23-72% of youth, depending upon sexual orientation, with the highest rates reported by lesbian/queer girls (72%), bisexual girls (66%), and gay/queer boys (66%). When examined by gender identity, transgender youth reported the highest rates of sexual harassment - 81%. Overall, the most common modes for sexual harassment were in-person followed by online. Distress in the form of interference with school, family, and/or friends; creating a hostile environment; or being very/extremely upset was reported by about half of the sexually harassed bisexual girls and lesbian/queer girls, 65% of the gender non-conforming/other gender youth, and 63% of the transgender youth. Youth with high social support and self-esteem were less likely to report sexual harassment. Findings point to the great importance of sexual harassment prevention for all adolescents, with particular emphasis on the unique needs and experiences of youth of different sexual orientations and gender identities. Socio-emotional programs that emphasize self-esteem building could be particularly beneficial for reducing the likelihood of victimization and lessen the impact when it occurs.