Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development

First Advisor

Wood, Susannah M

First Committee Member

Smith, Carol

Second Committee Member

Duys, David

Third Committee Member

Priest, Jacob

Fourth Committee Member

Viviani, Anna


This study sought to examine the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and intimate partner violence in adult committed, monogamous, same sex female relationships. Participants included lesbian or queer cisgender women, age 18 or over, who were in a current committed relationship of at least six months. Partnerships with local and national lesbian advocacy groups allowed electronic access to participants. A total of 87 participants completed the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire and the Abusive Behaviors Inventory. All participants were anonymous. The three examined variables included emotional/psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. These variables were entered into the Software Program for Statistical Analysis (SPSS) using correlational matrices, hierarchical regression, and one-way ANOVA analyses. Results from the data analysis will provide insight into the relationship of each variable on the presence of intimate partner violence in adult committed, monogamous, lesbian or queer cisgender relationships.

Public Abstract

In order to build upon existing research, this researcher set out to examine rates of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse among lesbian or queer cisgender women, both as children and adults. Focusing on the issue of intimate partner violence through a systemic lens allows future counselors and counselor educators an opportunity to view the impact of those systems surrounding an individual: family, neighbors, school, church, media, and government. By examining these systems, one can gain insight into the various levels of support available to help victims of trauma and abuse.

A survey including questions regarding childhood and current experiences of abuse was given to participating cisgender women. Results revealed the experience of one type of child abuse is related to another type of abuse occurring. For adults, physical and emotional abuse were closely related as well. Risk factors for experiencing abuse included unemployment, lower education, serving in the military, and consuming three or more alcoholic beverages per day. It was also suggested by this study that individuals from families perceived as supportive of same sex partnerships also felt supported in their schools and in media messages.

Using a systems perspective, while assessing for abuse with all clients, provides a more holistic view of each individual client. Understanding the differences in experiences of abuse within the lesbian and queer population is imperative to providing quality professional counseling.


publicabstract, adverse childhood experiences, counselor education, intimate partner violence, lesbian


ix, 119 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 109-119).


Copyright 2015 Meredith Anne Rausch