Mental Health in Violent Crime Victims: Does Sexual Orientation Matter?

  • Robert J. Cramer
  • Dale E. McNiel
  • Sarah R. Holley
  • Martha Shumway
  • Alicia Boccellari
Original Article


The present study investigates victim sexual orientation in a sample of 641 violent crime victims seeking emergency medical treatment at a public-sector hospital. Victim sexual orientation was examined as it: (a) varies by type of violent crime and demographic characteristics, (b) directly relates to psychological symptoms, and (c) moderates the relationship between victim and crime characteristics (i.e., victim gender, victim trauma history, and type of crime) and psychological symptoms (i.e., symptoms of acute stress, depression, panic, and general anxiety). Results showed that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) victims were more likely to be victims of sexual assault. Heterosexual victims were more likely to be victims of general assault and shootings. LGBT victims demonstrated significantly higher levels of acute stress and general anxiety. Moreover, victim sexual orientation moderated the association of type of crime with experience of panic symptoms. Also, victim sexual orientation moderated the relation of victim trauma history and general anxiety symptoms. Results are discussed in relation to victimization prevalence rates, sexual prejudice theory, and assessment and treatment of violent crime victims.


Sexual orientation LGBT victim Violent crime Anxiety Sexual assault 



The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Jennifer Alvidrez for her valuable input on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychological Association 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Cramer
    • 1
  • Dale E. McNiel
    • 2
  • Sarah R. Holley
    • 2
  • Martha Shumway
    • 2
  • Alicia Boccellari
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and PhilosophySam Houston State UniversityHuntsvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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