Category: Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender Issues

Symposium

Trauma Exposure on the Association Between Discrimination and Relationship Functioning Among Sexual-Minority Youth

Saturday, November 18
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom A, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: L / G / B / T | Couples / Close Relationships | Trauma
Presentation Type: Symposium

Sexual orientation-related discrimination is common among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals and it can negatively impact their romantic relationship functioning. Examining factors that influence the associations between discrimination and relationship functioning can inform interventions to promote adaptive coping and positive relationship outcomes. One important factor to consider is prior trauma exposure, which has the potential to influence how LGB individuals respond to discrimination and, in turn, its influence on relationship functioning. Trauma is deleterious to relationship functioning among heterosexuals, but this association has yet to be generalized to LGB populations and no studies have examined the influence of trauma exposure on the associations between discrimination and relationship functioning. To address these gaps, the current study used two waves of data from a longitudinal study of LGB youth (ages 16-20 at baseline) to examine lifetime trauma exposure as a moderator of the associations between discrimination (past six-months) and changes in relationship functioning (satisfaction, commitment, trust) six-months later. Analyses focused on the 86 youth in relationships at both waves. For those with low trauma exposure, more discrimination was generally associated with improvements in relationship functioning (satisfaction, b = .56, p = .01; commitment, b = .61, p = .03; trust, β = .45, p = .13). In contrast, for those with high trauma exposure, discrimination was not associated with changes in relationship functioning (satisfaction, b = -.03, p = .86; commitment, b = -.01, p = .96; trust, b = -.09, p = .74). Findings suggest that some LGB youth in relationships are resilient in the face of discrimination, such that it promotes positive relationship functioning, possibly due to seeking support from one’s partner in response to discrimination. This does not appear to be the case for those with more severe trauma histories, suggesting that interventions to promote adaptive coping with discrimination may be particularly useful for LGB youth with more severe histories of trauma exposure. 

Timothy Sullivan

Yale School of Public Health

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Trauma Exposure on the Association Between Discrimination and Relationship Functioning Among Sexual-Minority Youth



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