Differences by Sexual Minority Status in Relationship Abuse and Sexual and Reproductive Health Among Adolescent Females

Heather L. McCauley, Sc.D., M.S., Rebecca N. Dick, M.S., Daniel J. Tancredi, Ph.D., Sandi Goldstein, M.P.H., Samantha Blackburn, R.N., M.S.N., P.N.P., Jay G. Silverman, Ph.D., Erica Monasterio, R.N., M.N., F.N.P.-B.C., Lisa James, M.S., Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D.



Little is known about adolescent relationship abuse (ARA) and related sexual and reproductive health among females who either identify as lesbian or bisexual or engage in sexual behavior with female partners (i.e., sexual minority girls [SMGs]).


Baseline data were collected from 564 sexually active girls ages 14–19 years seeking care at eight California school-based health centers participating in a randomized controlled trial. Associations between ARA, sexual minority status and study outcomes (vaginal, oral, and anal sex, number and age of sex partners, contraceptive nonuse, reproductive coercion, sexually transmitted infection [STI] and pregnancy testing) were assessed via logistic regression models for clustered survey data.


SMGs comprised 23% (n = 130) of the sample. Controlling for exposure to ARA, SMGs were less likely to report recent vaginal sex (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], .51; 95% confidence interval [CI], .35–.75) and more likely to report recent oral sex (AOR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.38–2.92) and anal sex (AOR, 1.76; 95% CI, 1.26–2.46) compared with heterosexual girls. Heterosexual girls with ARA exposure (AOR, 2.85; 95% CI, 1.07–7.59) and SMGs without ARA exposure (AOR, 3.01; 95% CI, 2.01–4.50) were more likely than nonabused heterosexual girls be seeking care for STI testing or treatment than heterosexual girls without recent victimization.


Findings suggest the need for attention to STI risk among all girls, but SMGs in particular. Clinicians should be trained to assess youth for sexual contacts and sexual identity and counsel all youth on healthy relationships, consensual sex, and safer sex practices relevant to their sexual experiences.


McCauley H. L., Dick R. N., Tancredi D. J., Goldstein S., Blackburn S., Silverman J. G., Monasterio E., James L., Miller E. Differences by sexual minority status in relationship abuse and sexual and reproductive health among adolescent females. J Adol Health. Nov 2014;55(5):652-658. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.04.020)