Sexual Harrassment and Assault as Predictors of PTSD Symptomatology among U.S. Female Persian Gulf War Military Personnel


Wolfe, Jessica, Erica J. Sharkansky, Jennifer P. Read, Ree Dawson, and James A. Martin, Paige C. Ouimette. 1998. "Sexual Harassment and Assault as Predictors of PTSD Symptomatology among U.S. Female Persian Gulf War Military Personnel." Journal of Interpersonal Violence 13 (1): 40-57.

Authors: Jessica Wolfe, Erica J. Sharkansky, Jennifer P. Read, Ree Dawson, James A. Martin, Paige C. Ouimette


Rates and sequelae of sexual harassment and assault among women in a wartime military sample were examined. A second goal was to explore the comparative impacts of these stressors and combat exposure on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology. Army women (n = 160) were interviewed on return from the Persian Gulf War and again 18 to 24 months later. Rates of sexual assault (7.3%), physical sexual harassment (33.1%), and verbal sexual harassment (66.2%) were higher than those typically found in civilian and peacetime military samples. Sexual assault had a larger impact on PTSD symptomatology than combat exposure. Frequency of physical sexual harassment was significantly predictive of PTSD symptomatology. Furthermore, the number of postwar stressful life events mediated the relationship between physical sexual harassment and symptomatology but was not related to combat exposure. Sexual assault, sexual harassment, and combat exposure appear to be qualitatively different stressors for women, with different correlates and mechanisms of action. 

Keywords: military sexual assault, posttraumatic stress disorder, mental health, female soldiers

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Sexual Violence, SV against Women

Year: 1998

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