Unit Support Protects Against Sexual Harassment and Assault Among National Guard Soldiers
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OBJECTIVE: Despite concerns about increased sexual harassment and assault after the 2013 legislation repealing the ban on women in combat, little research has examined military factors that could prevent sexual harassment and assault during deployment. This study examined whether unit support, which reflects the quality of service members' relationships within their unit, protects against sexual harassment and assault during deployment. METHODS: Participants were 1,674 Ohio Army National Guard service members who reported at least one deployment during a telephone survey conducted in 2008 and 2009. Participants completed measures of sexual harassment/assault, unit support, and psychosocial support. Logistic regression was used to model odds of sexual harassment/assault. RESULTS: Approximately 13.2% of men (n = 198) and 43.5% of women (n = 74) reported sexual harassment, and 1.1% of men (n = 17) and 18.8% of women (n = 32) reported sexual assault during their most recent deployment. Greater unit support was associated with decreased odds of sexual harassment and assault. CONCLUSIONS: A substantial proportion of men and women reported sexual harassment/assault. Greater unit support was associated with diminished odds of sexual harassment/assault during deployment. Programming designed to improve unit cohesion has the potential to reduce sexual harassment and assault.
author list (cited authors)
Walsh, K., Galea, S., Cerda, M., Richards, C., Liberzon, I., Tamburrino, M. B., Calabrese, J., & Koenen, K. C.