Poly-victimization of autistic adults: an investigation of individual-level correlates

Vicki Gibbs*, Jennifer L. Hudson, Elizabeth Pellicano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Autistic people experience high rates of violence and victimization which is largely due to structural injustices, including stigma and social attitudes. Identifying and addressing systemic and structural factors is vitally important, however effecting change in embedded social structures is likely to take some time, even with concerted efforts. In the meantime, it is important to understand whether there are other individual-level factors that may assist in developing preventative and protective strategies for autistic people. The current study investigated the role of individual-level risk factors in the victimization of autistic people. Specifically, we examined whether characteristics that are common among autistic people that is, lower social competence, higher compliance and emotion regulation difficulties or more ADHD features (inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity) were associated with poly-victimization in a community sample of 228 adults (118 autistic, 110 non-autistic). Our results show that only ADHD features were predictive of poly-victimization once socio-demographic background variables (age, sexual orientation) were adjusted for. Group status was not a significant predictor in the model and there were no interaction effects between any of the characteristics and group status. These findings suggest that, regardless of whether a person is autistic, ADHD features may place individuals at higher risk of experiencing multiple forms of violence in adulthood. Further research using longitudinal designs and larger, diverse samples is needed. Furthermore, the regression model only accounted for about one-third of the variance in poly-victimization which highlights the importance of looking beyond individual-level risk factors to structural and systemic factors that contribute to disproportionate victimization of autistic people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2336-2349
Number of pages14
JournalAutism Research
Issue number12
Early online date22 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • ADHD
  • autism
  • poly-victimization
  • victimization
  • violence


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