May 1, 2015
This report describes analyses, using data from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study, designed to assess the effects of sexual assault and sexual harassment on service members' decisions to separate from the military. Among other findings, this study demonstrates that more than 8,000 separations over a 28-month period (4 percent of all separations) were associated with sexual assault or harassment experiences.
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Sexual assault and sexual harassment have a variety of consequences harmful to those who are targeted, including psychological and physical health effects. In addition, sexual assault and harassment may have deleterious and costly consequences for employers if the abuse results in higher turnover or low morale and productivity. This report describes data analyses designed to assess the effects of sexual assault and sexual harassment on service members' decisions to separate from the military. The researchers found that exposure to sexual assault (as determined by survey responses) doubled the odds that a member would separate from the military in the ensuing 28 months. Over this period, an estimated 2,000 more separations occurred than would be expected had members not been sexually assaulted, and 8,000 separations (or roughly 4 percent of all separations) were similarly associated with sexual harassment. Secondary analyses demonstrated that separations associated with sexual assault and harassment were disproportionately voluntary — that is, the service members were not discharged for problem behaviors or other failures to adhere to standards or expectations in the military. These findings suggest that sexual assault and harassment are costly for both the affected service members and the services and that they harm military readiness. The report concludes with recommendations for how the Department of Defense could use this study's findings to reduce sexual assault, sexual harassment, and the separations associated with these experiences. Data for these analyses are drawn from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study, which invited close to 560,000 U.S. service members to share their experiences.
Approach to Estimating the Effects of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment on Separation from the Military
Findings on the Effects of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment on Separation from the Military
Conclusions and Recommendations
Separations by Service, Pay Grade Category, and Gender
Discharge Codes Indicating a Failure to Adhere to Standards or Expectations