Bidirectional IPV Among Adolescent Sexual Minorities

Adam M. Messinger, Stephanie N. Sessarego, Katie M. Edwards, Victoria L. Banyard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Research repeatedly concludes that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals (i.e., sexual minorities) are at increased risk of experiencing abuse in a romantic or sexual relationship. For service providers, a vital but largely unanswered question is how common it is for victims of sexual minority intimate partner violence (SM-IPV) to also have perpetrated IPV, particularly in regard to adolescent relationships. To our knowledge, the present article is only the second in the literature to examine adolescent SM-IPV directionality, and it is the first to compare adolescent SM-IPV directionality and heterosexual IPV (H-IPV) directionality within the same sample. In 25 high schools across three northern New England states, sexual minority (n = 398) and heterosexual (n = 2,687) high school-aged adolescents aged 13 years to 19 years (where sexual orientation is defined indirectly via sexual attraction) completed a questionnaire as part of a broader evaluation study of a bystander-focused violence prevention curriculum (we utilized baseline data in this article). Chi-square tests revealed that experiencing victimization was significantly associated with engaging in perpetration for all forms of IPV assessed for both sexual minority and heterosexual youths. The sole exception was threatening IPV, for which a significant association was found among heterosexual but not sexual minority individuals. Bidirectional IPV rates did not differ substantially by sexual attraction: Verbal abuse was most likely to be bidirectional for both sexual attraction groups and all other assessed IPV forms occurring overwhelmingly in unidirectional patterns. Although replication is needed, study results suggest that adolescent IPV is not generally bidirectional. Directions for future research are discussed, including the need for sampling plans that enable further disaggregation by age and sexual orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)NP5643-NP5662
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


  • domestic violence
  • gay
  • mutual
  • sexual minority
  • sexual orientation


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