Sexual harassment and assault experienced by Reservists during military servicer: Prevalence and health correlates

National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA.
The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development (Impact Factor: 1.43). 01/2008; 45(3):409-19. DOI: 10.1682/JRRD.2007.06.0088
Source: PubMed


The current investigation identified the gender-specific prevalence of sexual harassment and assault experienced during U.S. military service and the negative mental and physical health correlates of these experiences in a sample of former reservists. We surveyed a stratified random sample of 3,946 former reservists about their experiences during military service and their current health, including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, somatic symptoms, and medical conditions. Prevalence estimates and confidence intervals of sexual harassment and assault were calculated. A series of logistic regressions identified associations with health symptoms and conditions. Both men and women had a substantial prevalence of military sexual harassment and assault. As expected, higher proportions of female reservists reported sexual harassment (60.0% vs 27.2% for males) and sexual assault (13.1% vs 1.6% for males). For both men and women, these experiences were associated with deleterious mental and physical health conditions, with sexual assault demonstrating stronger associations than other types of sexual harassment in most cases. This investigation is the first to document high instances of these experiences among reservists. These data provide further evidence that experiences of sexual harassment and assault during military service have significant implications for the healthcare needs of military veterans.

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    • "There have been some indications that National Guard soldiers may be at increased risk for postdeployment mental health concerns compared to active duty personnel, a disparity thought to be related to greater disruption in the social support networks of National Guard soldiers less prepared for deployment (Griffith & West, 2010). Relatively few published studies speak to the extent to which National Guard troops are exposed to sexual stressors while on deployment, or the degree to which these stressors predict postdeployment functioning (Street et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study used a longitudinal research design to examine the impact of predeployment stressors and deployment-related sexual stressors on self-reported psychiatric symptoms of U.S. National Guard soldiers returning from deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan. Prior to deployment, participants completed measures of depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms, along with an inventory of predeployment stressor experiences. At 3-months postdeployment, participants (468 men, 60 women) again completed self-report measures of psychiatric symptoms, along with an inventory of sexual stressors experienced during deployment. We compared a cross-sectional model of sexual stressors' impact on psychiatric symptoms, in which only postdeployment reports were considered, to a longitudinal model in which we adjusted for participants' predeployment stressors and psychiatric symptoms. No participants reported sexual assault during deployment, though sexual harassment was common. The cross-sectional model suggested that deployment-related sexual stressors were significantly associated with postdeployment depression (R(2) = .11) and posttraumatic stress symptoms (R(2) = .10). Once predeployment factors were taken into consideration, however, sexual stressors were no longer significant. The results did not support the notion of lasting negative impact for low-level sexual stressors (e.g., sexual harassment) during deployment after predeployment stressors are accounted for. Future studies of sexual stressors should consider longitudinal designs. © 2015 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
    Journal of Traumatic Stress 07/2015; 28(4). DOI:10.1002/jts.22019 · 2.72 Impact Factor
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    • "Do members of different Service branches and ranks (enlisted vs. officer) differ in their evaluations of sexual assault training as effective at (a) reducing/preventing sexual assault, and (b) explaining reporting options? Despite military efforts to reduce sexual assault, incidence rates remain unacceptably high (Lipari et al. 2008; Street et al. 2008). As stated above, women experience a greater amount of sexual violence in both military and civilian life (Bostock and Daley 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Sexual assault is an insidious problem in the United States military. In 2005 the Department of Defense (DoD) created the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, which centralizes responsibility for sexual assault training. However, this training initiative has undergone little evaluation by outside researchers. Addressing this need, we analyzed responses from over 24,000 active duty personnel who completed the 2010 DoD Workplace and Gender Relations Survey. We assessed whether sexual assault training exposure (None, Minimal, Partial, or Comprehensive) predicted accurate knowledge of sexual assault resources and protocols. Using a social-ecological framework, we investigated whether institutional and individual factors influenced Service members' training exposure and judgment of training effectiveness. According to our results, exposure to comprehensive training predicted lower sexual assault incidence and superior knowledge. However, comprehensive training differed as a function of military branch, rank, gender, and sexual assault history. Judgments of training effectiveness also varied across these dimensions. Our results highlight the importance of considering context, gender, and victimization history when evaluating institutional efforts to end sexual violence. The DoD's 2010 annual report on military sexual assault concluded that "most Active Duty members receive effective training on sexual assault" (p. 104). Our results cast doubt on that assertion.
    American Journal of Community Psychology 09/2014; 54(3-4). DOI:10.1007/s10464-014-9672-0 · 1.74 Impact Factor
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    • "The relationship between MST and PTSD among our sample of homeless individuals was especially striking: MST was associated with a six-fold increase in the odds of a PTSD diagnosis among women and nearly four-fold among men. While this is consistent with prior research where PTSD is one of the disorders most strongly related to MST,1,16,17 data also indicates that homeless individuals experience exceptionally high rates of traumatic events5,8,11,18 and would be expected to show high base rates of PTSD. Sexual trauma is amongst the traumatic events with the highest conditional risk for PTSD, and MST has been found in prior research to be a stronger predictor of PTSD compared to civilian sexual assault.19 "
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    ABSTRACT: Military sexual trauma (MST) is the Veteran Health Administration's (VHA) term for sexual assault and/or sexual harassment that occurs during military service. The experience of MST is associated with a variety of mental health conditions. Preliminary research suggests that MST may be associated with homelessness among female Veterans, although to date MST has not been examined in a national study of both female and male homeless Veterans. To estimate the prevalence of MST, examine the association between MST and mental health conditions, and describe mental health utilization among homeless women and men. National, cross-sectional study of 126,598 homeless Veterans who used VHA outpatient care in fiscal year 2010. All variables were obtained from VHA administrative databases, including MST screening status, ICD-9-CM codes to determine mental health diagnoses, and VHA utilization. Of homeless Veterans in VHA, 39.7 % of females and 3.3 % of males experienced MST. Homeless Veterans who experienced MST demonstrated a significantly higher likelihood of almost all mental health conditions examined as compared to other homeless women and men, including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, bipolar disorders, personality disorders, suicide, and, among men only, schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Nearly all homeless Veterans had at least one mental health visit and Veterans who experienced MST utilized significantly more mental health visits compared to Veterans who did not experience MST. A substantial proportion of homeless Veterans using VHA services have experienced MST, and those who experienced MST had increased odds of mental health diagnoses. Homeless Veterans who had experienced MST had higher intensity of mental health care utilization and high rates of MST-related mental health care. This study highlights the importance of trauma-informed care among homeless Veterans and the success of VHA homeless programs in providing mental health care to homeless Veterans.
    Journal of General Internal Medicine 07/2013; 28 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):536-41. DOI:10.1007/s11606-013-2341-4 · 3.42 Impact Factor
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