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Addict Behav. 2010 Dec;35(12):1152-6. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.07.004. Epub 2010 Jul 23.

Sexual victimization and hazardous drinking among heterosexual and sexual minority women.

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University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing (M/C 802), 845 South Damen Avenue, Room 956, Chicago, IL 60612, United States.



Although research shows that sexual minority women report high rates of lifetime sexual victimization and high rates of hazardous drinking, investigators have yet to explore the relationships between sexual victimization and hazardous drinking in this population. In addition, because the rates of these problems may vary within the sexual minority population, we examined and compared relationships between sexual victimization and hazardous drinking in exclusively heterosexual and sexual minority (mostly heterosexual, bisexual, mostly lesbian and exclusively lesbian) women.


Data from 548 participants in the National Study of Health and Life Experiences of Women and 405 participants in the Chicago Health and Life Experiences of Women study were pooled to address these relationships. We compared hazardous drinking, childhood sexual abuse (CSA), adult sexual assault (ASA), and revictimization (both CSA and ASA) across the five sexual identity subgroups. We then fit a multilevel general linear model to examine group differences in the relationships between hazardous drinking and sexual victimization and to test for potential interactions between victimization and identity on hazardous drinking.


Sexual minority women reported higher levels of hazardous drinking and higher rates of CSA and sexual revictimization than did exclusively heterosexual women. Revictimization was the strongest predictor of hazardous drinking among women who identified as mostly heterosexual and mostly lesbian.


This study extends previous research by examining associations between sexual victimization and hazardous drinking in heterosexual and sexual minority women and by exploring within-group variations in these associations among sexual minority women. Higher rates of lifetime sexual victimization and revictimization may help to explain sexual minority women's heightened risk for hazardous drinking. The findings highlight the need for additional research that examines the meanings of sexual identity labels to more fully understand differences in risk within groups of sexual minority women as well as how sexual identity may affect responses to and interpretations of sexual victimization.

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