Military sexual trauma among US servicewomen during deployment: a qualitative study
Burns B, Grindlay K, Holt K, Manski R, Grossman D. Military sexual trauma among US servicewomen during deployment: a qualitative study. American Journal of Public Health. February 2014 ;104(2): 345-349.
OBJECTIVES: We explored qualitatively US servicewomen’s experiences with and perceptions of military sexual trauma (MST), reporting, and related services.
METHODS: From May 2011 to January 2012, we conducted 22 telephone interviews with US servicewomen deployed overseas between 2002 and 2011. We analyzed data thematically with modified grounded theory methods.
RESULTS: Factors identified as contributing to MST included deployment dynamics, military culture, and lack of consequences for perpetrators. Participants attributed low MST reporting to negative reactions and blame from peers and supervisors, concerns about confidentiality, and stigma. Unit cohesion was cited as both a facilitator and a barrier to reporting. Availability and awareness of MST services during deployment varied. Barriers to care seeking were similar to reporting barriers and included confidentiality concerns and stigma. We identified several avenues to address MST, including strengthening consequences for perpetrators.
CONCLUSIONS: We identified barriers to MST reporting and services. Better understanding of these issues will allow policymakers to improve MST prevention and services.