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

Anne G. Sadler, Brenda M. Booth, Brian L. Cook, Bradley N. Doebbeling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-273
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Military
  • Rape
  • Women
  • Workplace violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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