Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice, PhD

Committee Chair

Andreescu, Viviana

Committee Member

Swartz, Kristin

Committee Member

Grossi, Elizabeth

Committee Member

Marcum, Cathy

Author's Keywords

criminology; criminal justice; victimization; LGBT issues; prison violence; sexual minorities


Every year, interpersonal violence affects an important segment of the world population, having deleterious effects on the victims, their families, and societies. Recent scholarship indicates that sexual and gender minority population groups are overrepresented among those who experience or have experienced verbal, psychological, physical, and/or sexual violence. Using an integrative approach, the current study links the past and the present to identify the contextual factors that may increase or decrease the sexual minorities’ risk of violent victimization during adulthood. This dissertation uses as a theoretical framework Bronfenbrenner’s (1977, 1979, 1994) social ecological model of human development as well as its subsequent adaptations to victimization research (Belsky, 1980; Grauerholz, 2000; Heise, 1998). This dissertation examines why certain individuals tend to experience violent victimization over their life-course, while others’ victimization experiences are limited solely to childhood/adolescence or adulthood. The analysis is based on data collected between 2016 and 2018 from a nationally representative sample of sexual minority adults (N = 1,507) in the United States (Krueger et al., 2020). This retrospective study examines a special population group that is currently understudied in victimology and its results are useful in filling knowledge gaps in the existing literature on victimization. Findings indicate that adverse childhood experiences and childhood victimization by parents, caregivers, peers, or others increase the likelihood of future victimization. While substance abuse in adulthood increases the risk of victimization in post-adolescence, social support from family and friends acts as a protective factor against victimization or revictimization in adulthood. Additionally, the proposed typology of victims (i.e., adolescence-limited victims; adulthood-limited victims; lifetime victims) indicates that sexual minorities who reported lifetime direct violent victimization were more likely to be individuals who did not grow up in intact families, were exposed in childhood to inter-parental violence, misused drugs, and alcohol later in life, and received diminished social support from family and friends. Moreover, the lifetime victims of violence were more likely to have a sexual identity other than homosexual and were between 27 and 60 years old. Compared to men, women were more likely to experience direct violent revictimization over their life span. The implications of the findings for research and practice and the study limitations are also discussed.

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Criminology Commons