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Child Abuse Negl. 2002 Nov;26(11):1165-78.

Reports of parental maltreatment during childhood in a United States population-based survey of homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual adults.

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Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health, Box 951772, 650 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA.



The study objective was to determine the nature and prevalence of childhood maltreatment experiences among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults and to compare findings to those obtained from similar heterosexual adults.


Data from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), which measured both childhood experiences with parental emotional and physical maltreatment and adult sexual orientation, were used to compare childhood maltreatment experiences of 2,917 heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual individuals, age 25-74 years, separately by gender.


Homosexual/bisexual men reported higher rates than heterosexual men of childhood emotional and any physical maltreatment (including major physical maltreatment) by their mother/maternal guardian and major physical maltreatment by their father/paternal guardian. In contrast, homosexual/bisexual women, as compared to heterosexual women, reported higher rates of major physical maltreatment by both their mother/maternal guardian and their father/ paternal guardian. Differences among individuals with differing sexual orientations were most pronounced for the more extreme forms of physical maltreatment.


Adult minority sexual orientation is a risk indicator for positive histories of experiencing parental maltreatment during childhood. While the reasons for this are beyond the scope of the current study, previous research suggests that childhood individual differences, including possibly gender atypicality, may be a causal factor.

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