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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Psychology, Pathological, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Psychic trauma in children, Sexual orientation, Sexual minorities-Social networks, Psychopathology, PTSD, Trauma, Social support, Sexual minorities in higher education, College students-Psychology


This study explored the relations among childhood adversities, current social support, and trauma-related psychopathological symptoms in a convenience and random sample of heterosexual (60.8%, n = 169) and sexual minority (39.2%, n = 109) college students. Sexual minorities reported significantly more depression and anxiety symptoms—but not more PTSD— than heterosexuals. These findings were largely driven by the convenience sample, such that sexual minorities in the convenience sample reported significantly more psychopathology than sexual minorities in the random sample. Among sexual minorities, childhood adversities such as abuse, neglect, bullying, and gender atypicality were associated with more posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety symptoms, and current social support was associated with less posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, for sexual minorities, bullying severity and sexual abuse predicted posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms; and childhood emotional abuse, bullying severity, and gender typicality predicted depression and anxiety symptoms. These findings suggest that childhood adversities and current social support are important determinants of psychopathology among sexual minority college students.




69 pages. Honors Project, Smith College, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 39-46)