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The List - One year, hundreds of stories. 2014-15 Progress Report.

NIJ grant will study sexual assault among sexual minority women

By Cathy Wilde

Release Date: April 9, 2015

Amy Hequembourg

“Our goal is to provide insights that will help criminal justice systems, including law enforcement, victim services and anti-violence programs, develop new policies and procedures that improve responses to these vulnerable women’s needs.”
Amy Hequembourg, RIA senior research scientist
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) has received a grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to examine the experience of sexual assault among lesbian and bisexual women compared to heterosexual women.

The three-year study will be led by Amy Hequembourg, PhD, senior research scientist at RIA.

“The limited studies available suggest the prevalence of sexual assault among sexual minority women is higher compared to rates among heterosexual women,” Hequembourg says. “Yet we don’t fully understand the reasons for this, and our justice system often inadequately responds to the unique needs of lesbian and bisexual women who experience sexual assault.”

Previous research has shown that experiences of bias and stigma contribute to lower rates of sexual assault reporting by lesbian and bisexual women, resulting in victims with unmet needs, along with fewer criminal prosecutions of perpetrators.

“This study will systematically examine the risks for assault among sexual minority women, the characteristics of their assaults, and their post-assault experiences,” Hequembourg says.

“Our goal is to provide insights that will help criminal justice systems, including law enforcement, victim services and anti-violence programs, develop new policies and procedures that improve responses to these vulnerable women’s needs.”   

Co-investigators on the study are Jennifer Livingston, PhD, and Jaye Derrick, PhD, RIA senior research scientists, and R. Lorraine Collins, associate dean for research, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions.

RIA is a research center of the University at Buffalo and a national leader in the study of alcohol and substance abuse issues. RIA’s research programs, most of which have multiple-year funding, are supported by federal, state and private foundation grants. Located on UB’s Downtown Campus, RIA is a member of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and a key contributor to UB’s reputation for research excellence. To learn more, visit buffalo.edu/ria

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