Transgender Intimate Partner Violence and Help-Seeking Patterns

Kurdyla, V., Messinger, A.M., & Ramirez, M. (2021).
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36 (19-20).
Type of Profession:
Expanded Abstract: 

Intimate partner violence (IPV) against transgender individuals is highly prevalent. According to a national survey of 27,715 transgender individuals, for example, one study found that 54% had experienced some form of intimate partner violence (James et al., 2016). Despite this high rate, few studies exist related to transgender intimate partner violence. Specifically, no U.S.-based quantitative studies have explored transgender utilization patterns and perceptions regarding a broad range of help-giving resources (HGRs) (quantitative analysis involves looking at the hard data, the actual numbers. Other studies use qualitative analysis which is less tangible, often measuring subjective characteristics or opinions).

The present article fills the gap in the existing literature by exploring help-seeking attitudes and behaviors of a convenience sample of 92 transgender adults and 325 cisgender sexual minority adults in the United States (a convenience sample is a type of method of finding participants for a study where the sample is taken from a group of people easy to contact or to reach).

Results from an online questionnaire indicate that, among the subsample experiencing IPV (n = 187), help-seeking rates were significantly higher among transgender survivors (84.1%) than cisgender sexual minority survivors (67.1%). In addition, transgender survivors most commonly sought help from friends (76.7%), followed by mental health care providers (39.5%) and family (30.2%), whereas formal HGRs such as police, IPV telephone hotlines, and survivor shelters had low utilization rates. Among all transgender participants, IPV survivors were significantly less likely than non-survivors to perceive family, medical doctors, and survivor hotlines as helpful HGRs for other survivors in general.

Finally, transgender survivors were significantly less likely than non-survivors to self-report a willingness to disclose any future IPV to family. Although replication with larger probability samples is needed, these findings suggest that friends often represent the primary line of defense for transgender survivors seeking help, and thus bystander intervention trainings and education should be adapted to address not just cisgender but also transgender IPV. Furthermore, because most formal HGR types appear to be underutilized and perceived more negatively by transgender survivors, renewed efforts are needed to tailor services, service advertising, and provider trainings to the needs of transgender communities. Directions for future research are reviewed.

(The expanded abstract is excerpted and adapted from the article cited above)