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Recognition of the prevalence and pernicious effects of sexual assault, and especially of acquaintance rape, has increased dramatically since the early 1990s. During this time, a large volume of research has enhanced understanding of the problem. This volume summarizes recent studies on sexual assault that the authors deem useful and relevant to the U.S. Department of Defense and other policymakers interested in sexual assault issues. The authors provide a brief overview of the prevalence and effects of sexual assault, and of important events and laws pertaining to sexual assault in both the civilian and military sectors. They then discuss the research that has been conducted on ten aspects of sexual assault, including its prevalence, victim and perpetrator characteristics and risk factors, prevention, recovery and coping, and the responses of the health care, law enforcement, and criminal justice systems. Finally, in this compendium's annotated bibliography, the authors summarize more than 450 studies of sexual assault, tailoring their descriptions of research from a variety of fields for an audience of policymakers and informed lay readers.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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