Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Dawn M. Szymanski

Committee Members

Jacob J. Levy, Gina P. Owens, Donna M. Braquet

Abstract

Recently, scholars have begun to advocate that categories of traumatic events be expanded to include experiences that do not meet the traditional diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as oppression. Our study builds on this work by examining experiences with two kinds of heterosexist oppression, one that meets the traditional diagnostic criteria for PTSD (i.e., sexual orientation-based hate crime victimization) and one that does not (i.e., heterosexist discrimination), as predictors of PTSD symptoms in a sample of 427 gay, lesbian and bisexual persons who responded to an online survey. In addition, we examined the mediating roles of coping with heterosexism via internalization, detachment, and drug and alcohol use in the heterosexist oppression-PTSD symptoms link. Results indicated that when examined concurrently, both sexual orientation-based hate crime victimization and heterosexist discrimination had direct and unique links to PTSD symptoms. In addition, the results of the mediational analysis using bootstrapping provided support for a theorized model in which coping with oppressive events via internalization, detachment, and drug and alcohol use mediated the link between heterosexist discrimination and PTSD symptoms but not between sexual orientation-based hate crime victimization and PTSD symptoms. Finally, the five variables in the model accounted for 42% of the variance in PTSD severity.

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