Interpersonal Violence Prevention Considerations for Sexual Minority College Students: Lower Campus Connection, Worse Perceptions of Institutional Support, and more Accurate Understandings of Sexual Consent

  • Annelise MennickeEmail author
  • Elizabeth Geiger
  • Melanie Brewster
Original Article


While research has established that sexual minority college students are at increased risk for sexual violence and dating violence, less research has explored their attitudes and beliefs related to bystander self-efficacy, perceptions of institutional support, connectedness to the university, or understandings of sexual consent. These attitudes and beliefs are central to violence prevention and intervention programming and are well-researched among heterosexual students. Minority stress theory suggests that sexual minority people may have different attitudes and beliefs about violence due to these experiences with discrimination. The purpose of this investigation was to explore the relationship between victimization, minority stressors, and sexual identity on bystander self-efficacy, perceptions of institutional support, connectedness to the university, and understandings of sexual consent. Using a subsample of the 2016 Multi-College Bystander Efficacy Evaluation data from one university, data from 542 students were analyzed (271 sexual minority students and 271 randomly selected heterosexual students). Regressions indicated that sexual minority students, compared to heterosexual students, had lower feelings of connectedness to the college, less favorable perceptions of institutional support, and more accurate understandings of sexual consent. Victims of sexual assault had more accurate understandings of sexual consent, but this was not a significant predictor of college connectedness or perceptions of institutional support. These findings suggest a need for tailored prevention and intervention programs that address the specific needs of sexual minority students.


Sexual minority Interpersonal violence Campus connection Institutional support Sexual consent 



The authors would like to thank the Campus Advocates for Prevention Professional Association for their valuable input related to practice implications.


Study data were collected and managed using REDCap electronic data capture tools hosted at the University of Kentucky. The project described was supported by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through grant number UL1TR001998. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.


Research was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cooperative Agreement U01 CE002668. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a supervisory role in the design and conduct of the study but had no direct role in the collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; or the decision to submit the manuscript for publications. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


  1. Anderson, R. E., Wandrey, R. L., Klossner, S. C., Cahill, S. P., & Delahanty, D. L. (2017). Sexual minority status and interpersonal victimization in college men. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 4, 130–136. Scholar
  2. Arminio, J., Reason, R. D., Krieger, H., Serrano, S., & Neighbors, C. (2017). The role of self-efficacy for bystander helping behaviors in risky alcohol situations. Journal of College Student Development, 58, 451–456. Scholar
  3. Balsam, K. F., & Szymanski, D. M. (2005). Relationship quality and domestic violence in women's same-sex relationships: The role of minority stress. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29, 258–269. Scholar
  4. Banyard, V. L. (2008). Measurement and correlates of prosocial bystander behavior: The case of interpersonal violence. Violence and Victims, 23(1), 83–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Basile, K. C., Espelage, D. L., Rivers, I., McMahon, P. M., & Simon, T. R. (2009). The theoretical and empirical links between bullying behavior and male sexual violence perpetration. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14, 336–347. Scholar
  6. Black, W. W., Fedewa, A. L., & Gonzalez, K. A. (2012). Effects of “safe school” programs and policies on the social climate for sexual-minority youth: A review of the literature. Journal of LGBT Youth, 9, 321–339. Scholar
  7. Borsky, A. E., McDonnell, K., Turner, M. M., & Rimal, R. (2016). Raising a red flag on dating violence: Evaluation of a low-resource, college-based bystander behavior intervention program. Journal of Interpersonal Violence., 33, 3480–3501. Scholar
  8. Burt, M. (1980). Cultural myths and supports for rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28, 217–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cannon, C., & Buttell, F. (2015). Illusion of inclusion: The failure of the gender paradigm to account for intimate partner violence in LGBT relationships. Partner Abuse, 6, 65–77. Scholar
  10. Cantor, D., Fisher, B., Chibnall, S. H., Townsend, R., Lee, H., Thomas, G., et al. (2015). Report on the AAU campus climate survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct. Washington, DC: Association of American Universities.Google Scholar
  11. Carmody, D. C., & Washington, L. M. (2001). Rape myth acceptance among college women: The impact of race and prior victimization. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 16, 424–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Center for Research on Violence against Women. (2014). Campus attitudes toward safety. Lexington: University of Kentucky.Google Scholar
  13. Diaz, E. M., Kosciw, J. G., & Greytak, E. A. (2010). School connectedness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth: In-school victimization and institutional supports. The Prevention Researcher, 17, 15-18. Retrieved from: 1&it=r&linkaccess=fulltext&issn=10864385&p=AONE&sw=w.
  14. Edwards, K. M., & Sylaska, K. M. (2013). The perpetration of intimate partner violence among LGBTQ college youth: The role of minority stress. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 1721–1731. Scholar
  15. Edwards, K. M., Dardis, C., & Gidycz, C. A. (2012). Women’s disclosure of dating violence: A mixed methodological study. Feminism & Psychology, 22, 507–517. Scholar
  16. Edwards, K. M., Sylaska, K. M., & Neal, A. M. (2015). Intimate partner violence among sexual minority populations: A critical review of the literature and agenda for future research. Psychology of Violence, 5, 112–121 2152-0828/15/$12.00.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Evans, R., Nagoshi, J. L., Nagoshi, C., Wheeler, J., & Henderson, J. (2017). Voices from the stories untold: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer college students' experiences with campus climate. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 29, 426–444. Scholar
  18. Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., Hamby, S., & Ormrod, R. (2011). Polyvictimization: Children’s exposure to multiple types of violence, crime, and abuse. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  19. Greene, G. J., Fisher, K. A., Kuper, L., Andrews, R., & Mustanski, B. (2015). “Is this normal? Is this not normal? There is no set example”: Sexual health intervention preferences of LGBT youth in romantic relationships. Sexuality research and social policy, 12, 1–14. Scholar
  20. Harris, P. A., Taylor, R., Thielke, R., Payne, J., Gonzalez, N., & Conde, J. G. (2009). Research electronic data capture (REDCap)—A metadata-driven methodology and workflow process for providing translational research informatics support. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 42, 377–381. Scholar
  21. Hassouneh, D., & Glass, N. (2008). The influence of gender role stereotyping on women's experiences of female same-sex intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 14, 310–325. Scholar
  22. Hong, J. S., Woodford, M. R., Long, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (2016). Ecological covariates of subtle and blatant heterosexist discrimination among LGBQ college students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45, 117–131. Scholar
  23. Jenkins, N., & Dambrot, J. (1987). The attribution of date rape: Observer’s attitudes and sexual experiences and the dating situation. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 17, 875–895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Johnson, L. M., Matthews, T. L., & Napper, S. L. (2016). Sexual orientation and sexual assault victimization among US college students. The Social Science Journal, 53, 174–183. Scholar
  25. Katz, J., & Moore, J. (2013). Bystander education training for campus sexual assault prevention: An initial meta-analysis. Perspectives on college sexual assault: Perpetrator, victim, and bystander. In R. D. Maiuro (Ed.), Perspectives on college sexual assault: Perpetrator, victim, and bystander (183–196). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  26. Lefley, H., Scott, C., Llabre, M., & Hicks, D. (1993). Cultural beliefs about rape and victims’ responses in three ethnic groups. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 63, 623–632.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Lonsway, K. A., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (1995). Attitudinal antecedents of rape myth acceptance: A theoretical and empirical reexamination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 704–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McMahon, S., Peterson, N. A., Winter, S. C., Palmer, J. E., Postmus, J. L., & Koenick, R. A. (2015). Predicting bystander behavior to prevent sexual assault on college campuses: The role of self-efficacy and intent. American Journal of Community Psychology, 56, 46–56. Scholar
  29. McNeely, C., & Falci, C. (2004). School connectedness and the transition into and out of health-risk behavior among adolescents: A comparison of social belonging and teacher support. Journal of School Health, 74, 284–292. Scholar
  30. McNeely, C. A., Nonnemaker, J. M., & Blum, R. W. (2002). Promoting school connectedness: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of adolescent health. Journal of School Health, 72, 138–146.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Messinger, A. M. (2014). Marking 35 years of research on same-sex intimate partner violence: Lessons and new directions. In D. Peterson & V. R. Panfil (Eds.), Handbook of LGBT communities, crime, and justice (pp. 65–85). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Meyer, I. H. (1995). Minority stress and mental health in gay men. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 36, 38–56 Retrieved from Scholar
  33. Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674–697. Scholar
  34. Muehlenhard, C. L., Humphreys, T. P., Jozkowski, K. N., & Peterson, Z. D. (2016). The complexities of sexual consent among college students: A conceptual and empirical review. The Journal of Sex Research, 53, 457–487. Scholar
  35. Norris, A. L., McGuire, J. K., & Stolz, C. (2016). Direct and indirect experiences with heterosexism: How slurs impact all students. Applied Developmental Science, 1–14.
  36. Ollen, E. W., Ameral, V. E., Palm Reed, K., & Hines, D. A. (2017). Sexual minority college students’ perceptions on dating violence and sexual assault. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64, 112–119. Scholar
  37. Orchowski, L. M., & Gidycz, C. A. (2015). Psychological consequences associated with positive and negative responses to disclosure of sexual assault among college women: A prospective study. Violence Against Women, 21, 803–823. Scholar
  38. Potter, S. J., Fountain, K., & Stapleton, J. G. (2012). Addressing sexual and relationship violence in the LGBT community using a bystander framework. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 20, 201–208. Scholar
  39. Resnick, M. D., Ireland, M., & Borowsky, I. (2004). Youth violence perpetration: What protects? What predicts? Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of adolescent health. Journal of Adolescent Health, 35, 424-e1–424-e10. Scholar
  40. Sterzing, P. R., Ratliff, G. A., Gartner, R. E., McGeough, B. L., & Johnson, K. C. (2017). Social ecological correlates of polyvictimization among a national sample of transgender, genderqueer, and cisgender sexual minority adolescents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 67, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sylaska, K. M., & Edwards, K. M. (2015). Disclosure experiences of sexual minority college student victims of intimate partner violence. American Journal of Community Psychology, 55(3–4), 326–335.Google Scholar
  42. Stotzer, R. L., & MacCartney, D. (2016). The role of institutional factors on on-campus reported rape prevalence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 31, 2687–2707. Scholar
  43. Tetreault, P. A., Fette, R., Meidlinger, P. C., & Hope, D. (2013). Perceptions of campus climate by sexual minorities. Journal of Homosexuality, 60(7), 947–964. Scholar
  44. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). Sex-based Discrimination. Retrieved from
  45. Warren, P., Swan, S., & Allen, C. T. (2015). Comprehension of sexual consent as a key factor in the perpetration of sexual aggression among college men. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 24, 897–913. Scholar
  46. Woodford, M. R., Kulick, A., Sinco, B. R., & Hong, J. S. (2014). Contemporary heterosexism on campus and psychological distress among LGBQ students: The mediating role of self-acceptance. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84, 519–529. Scholar
  47. Worthen, M. G., & Wallace, S. A. (2017). Intersectionality and perceptions about sexual assault education and reporting on college campuses. Family Relations, 66, 180–196. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  2. 2.Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew York CityUSA

Personalised recommendations