Risk of Sexual Assault in Military Higher in Locations and Units Where Sexual Harassment Is More Common
Mar 2, 2021
This report describes analyses designed to identify how the sexual harassment of others in a service member's work environment affects his or her own risk of being sexually assaulted. These analyses draw on data from one of the largest surveys ever conducted on sexual assault and harassment experiences, the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study.
This report describes analyses designed to identify how the sexual harassment of others in a service member's work environment (or ambient sexual harassment) affects his or her own risk of being sexually assaulted. The authors find that ambient sexual harassment against service women and men is strongly associated with risk of sexual assault, even after controlling for many other sexual assault risk factors (such as age, rank, marital status, and education level). Indeed, on average, service women's sexual assault risk increased by more than a factor of 1.5 when they worked in environments where the rates of ambient sexual harassment against women and men were above average, compared with the sexual assault risk for women working where the rates were below average. And service men's sexual assault risk increased by a factor of 1.8 when working in such environments.
The authors conclude that sexual assault and harassment in the military should be thought of as a single problem or as a single underlying workplace disorder. In addition, because work environments in which rates of sexual harassment are high appear to contribute to service members' risk of sexual assault, efforts to prevent sexual assault should emphasize preventing or stopping sexual harassment. Data for these analyses were drawn from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study, an independent assessment of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the U.S. military.
Data and Methods
Ambient Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Risk
Smoothing Ambient Sexual Harassment Values for Small Units