Factors associated with women's risk of rape in the military environment

Authors

  • Anne G. Sadler R.N., PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Psychology Service, Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Iowa City, Iowa
    • Psychology Service (116B), Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Iowa City, Iowa 52246, IA.
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  • Brenda M. Booth PhD,

    1. HSR&D Center for Mental Health Outcomes and Research, Little Rock Veterans Affairs Medical Center; Department of Psychiatry, The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
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  • Brian L. Cook DO, MSc,

    1. Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center; The Department of Psychiatry, The University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa
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  • Bradley N. Doebbeling MD, MSc

    1. HSRD Program in Interdisciplinary Research in Healthcare Organization, Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, The Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology, The University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine and Public Health, Iowa City, Iowa
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  • This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.

Abstract

Background

Health hazards specific to women workers have not been adequately documented. This study assessed military environmental factors associated with rape occurring during military service, while controlling for pre-military trauma experiences.

Methods

A national cross-sectional survey of 558 women veterans serving in Vietnam or in subsequent eras was obtained through structured telephone interviews.

Results

Rape was reported by 28% (n = 151) of participants, with consistent rates found across eras. Military environmental factors were associated with increased likelihood of rape, including: sexual harassment allowed by officers (P < 0.0001), unwanted sexual advances on-duty (P < 0.0001) and in sleeping quarters (P < 0.0001).

Conclusion

Violence towards military women has identifiable risk factors. Work and living environments where unwanted sexual behaviors occurred were associated with increased odds of rape. Officer leadership played an important role in the military environment and safety of women. Assailant alcohol and/or drug abuse at time of rape was notable. Interventions and policies based on modifiable environmental risk factors are needed to increase protection for women in the workplace. Am. J. Ind. Med. 43:262–273, 2003. Published 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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