Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Effects of the Men's Program on U.S. Army Soldiers' Intentions to Commit and Willingness to Intervene to Prevent Rape: A Pretest Posttest Study

Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Effects of the Men's Program on U.S. Army Soldiers' Intentions to Commit and Willingness to Intervene to Prevent Rape: A Pretest Posttest Study

Article excerpt

Noncommissioned male officers in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany were trained to present a 1-hour rape prevention workshop-The Men's Program-to 237 enlisted male soldiers. A comparison group of 244 male soldiers received a briefing focused on reducing the individual's risk for experiencing sexual assault, discussion of myths and facts about sexual assault, and how to avoid being accused of sexual assault. Participants in The Men's Program experienced significant change in the predicted direction for bystander willingness to help, bystander efficacy, rape myth acceptance, likelihood of raping, and likelihood of committing sexual assault with low to medium effect sizes. Comparison group participants experienced no effect on these variables except for a significant decline in rape myth acceptance with a very low effect size.

Between-group differences pointed to the efficacy of The Men's Program. Implications of these results for rape prevention programming in the military are discussed.

Keywords: rape; prevention; program; evaluation; military; bystander

Research has shown that throughout the U.S. military, between one quarter and one third of women experience rape or attempted rape during their military service (Campbell & Raja, 2005; Sadler, Booth, & Doebbeling, 2005; Suris & Lind, 2008). What is particularly alarming about this statistic, in addition to its magnitude, is that 96% of the perpetrators of this violence are other members of the U.S. military (Sadler et al., 2005; Suris & Lind, 2008). Studies from individual branches of the military lend further credence to these studies. In the Air Force, 38% of active duty women have experienced sexual harassment from their supervisors; a rate that is more than twice as high as women in the civilian workforce (Bostock & Daley, 2007). A statistic of great concern to the Navy is that 13% of men who enlist report perpetrating rape or attempted rape prior to their service; a rate twice as high as the 6%-9% national average (Abbey & McAuslan, 2004; Lisak & Miller; 2002; Stander, Merrill, Thomsen, Crouch, & Milner, 2008).

Numerous studies demonstrate that female soldiers who experience rape have significantly higher rates of mental health problems including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and depression (Kang, Dalager, Mahan, & Ishii, 2005; Suris, Lind, Kashner, Borman, & Petty, 2004). Female veterans (21%) are more likely to meet criteria for PTSD compared to 5% in the civilian population of women. Sexual assault appears to be the greatest risk factor for PTSD compared to other types of trauma for female veterans.

Because both interpersonal violence and combat exposure are associated with high rates of PTSD, PTSD represents a significant health challenge for female veterans. Furthermore, female veterans who are exposed to trauma are at increased risk for developing other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and overall poor psychological functioning. Therefore, these women are likely to demonstrate an increased need for mental health services. Regarding physical health, studies of female veterans have documented associations between sexual assault, PTSD, and increased physical health problems. Preliminary research suggests that a history of trauma is related to increased medical service uses, although this may depend on the nature of the trauma experienced. Nevertheless, the high rates of trauma exposure and PTSD among female veterans suggest that this population likely demonstrates a greater need for medical services in comparison to the civilian sector (Zinzow, Grubaugh, Moonier, Suffoletta-Maierle, & Frueh, 2007).

If female soldiers are experiencing rape and other forms of military sexual trauma, this threatens unit cohesion. Given that the rate of military sexual trauma is so high, it has become an increasing threat to the mission readiness of the U.S. Armed Forces. …

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