Exploring Victimization Experiences of Sexual Minority Adolescents and their Associations with Mental Health and Help-Seeking Behaviours: A Minority Stress Perspective
Victimization in adolescence is associated with a variety of negative psychopathological and social outcomes, and is predictive of recurrent victimization over the lifespan (Wolke & Lereya, 2015; Feiring & Furman, 2000). Youth who identify as LGBT2Q+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, queer/questioning, etc.), also known as sexual minority youth, are at an increased risk of experiencing both peer and romantic victimization (Lee, 2013; Reuter, Sharp, & Temple, 2015), are more likely to experience mental health problems (Fish & Pasley, 2015), and are less likely to seek help after being victimized (Gallopin & Leigh, 2009), compared to their sexual majority peers. Meyer’s Minority Stress Theory (2003) provides a promising framework through which researchers may explain the relationship between sexual minority status and negative developmental outcomes. This theory posits that stressors specific to an individual’s minority status mediate the relationship between sexual minority status and physical and mental health problems (Meyer, 2003). The current thesis consisted of two studies, which used a Minority Stress Theory framework to understand how minority stress may mediate or moderate the relationship between peer and romantic victimization, and mental health problems or help-seeking behaviours. Results indicated that sexual minority high school students in grades 9-12 were significantly more likely to experience verbal/emotional abuse, coercive/controlling behaviours, and sexual abuse, in the peer context. Additionally, minority stress mediated the relationship between romantic victimization and mental health. This research may inform future intervention programs targeted at LGBT2Q+ youth and ensure their unique needs are being integrated into anti-bullying initiatives.