Intimate Partner Violence and Illicit Substance Use Among Sexual and Gender Minority Youth: The Protective Role of Cognitive Reappraisal

Jillian R. Scheer, Ethan H. Mereish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY) disproportionately experience intimate partner violence (IPV) and report illicit substance use compared with cisgender heterosexual youth. Cognitive reappraisal strategies have been shown to decrease trauma-exposed individuals’ likelihood of engaging in substance use. However, virtually no research has examined the relationship between various forms of IPV, including identity abuse, and illicit substance use, as well as the protective role of cognitive reappraisal among IPV-exposed SGMY. The current study addressed these limitations and examined cognitive reappraisal as a moderator of the associations between various IPV forms and illicit substance use among 149 SGMY (ages 18-25; 28.9% bisexual, 42.3% transgender or gender nonbinary, 45.0% racial and ethnic minority) between 2016 and 2017. Results indicated that many SGMY used cocaine in the past 6 months (24.8%), followed by hallucinogens (24.8%), stimulants (22.8%), and heroin (20.8%). More than half (62.4%) of SGMY experienced psychological abuse, 44.3% physical abuse, and 43.6% identity abuse in the past year. Cognitive reappraisal buffered the associations between two forms of IPV, identity abuse and physical abuse, and illicit substance use among SGMY, underscoring its importance for clinical intervention. Specifically, past year identity abuse and physical abuse were associated with greater illicit substance use only for SGMY with lower cognitive reappraisal, not for youth with higher cognitive reappraisal. This study adds to the burgeoning literature on identity, physical, and psychological forms of IPV and illicit substance use among SGMY. Our findings provide evidence that cognitive reappraisal strategies buffer the effect of identity abuse and physical abuse on illicit drug use among SGMY. These findings shed light on new avenues for clinical intervention that may help to reduce the prevalence of illicit substance use among IPV-exposed SGMY.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9956-9976
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number21-22
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive reappraisal
  • gender minority youth
  • illicit substance use
  • intimate partner violence
  • sexual minority youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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