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Women veterans’ experiences of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual assault in the context of military service: implications for supporting women’s health and well-being

APA Citation:

Dichter, M. E., Wagner, C., True, G. (2018). Women veterans’ experiences of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual assault in the context of military service: Implications for supporting women’s health and well-being. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33(6), 843-864. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260516669166

Abstract Created by REACH:

This qualitative study used the Military Occupational Mental Health model to explore interviews from 25 women veterans and identified ways in which military service influenced experiences of intimate partner violence and sexual assault (IPV/SA). Additionally, this study explored the effects that IPV/SA had on women’s military service. The findings suggest that IPV/SA affected the quality and duration of women’s military careers, and that military resources were associated with both positive and negative outcomes.



Branch of Service:

Air Force
Coast Guard
Marine Corps
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Cross-sectional study
Qualitative Study


Dichter, Melissa E., Wagner, Clara, True, Gala


Women who have served in the military in the United States experience high rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner sexual assault (SA). The military setting presents challenges and opportunities not experienced in other employment contexts that may compound the negative impacts of IPV/SA on women’s lives. The purpose of this study was to explore the intersection of women’s experiences of IPV/SA and military service through analysis of women veterans’ narrative accounts. We conducted in-depth face-to-face qualitative interviews with 25 women veterans receiving primary care at a U.S. Veterans Affairs Medical Center. We draw upon Adler and Castro’s (2013) Military Occupational Mental Health Model to frame our understanding of the impact of IPV/SA as a stressor in the military cultural context and to inform efforts to prevent, and support women service members who have experienced, these forms of violence. Our findings highlight the impact of IPV/SA on women’s military careers, including options for entering and leaving military service, job performance, and opportunities for advancement. Women’s narratives also reveal ways in which the military context constrains their options for responding to and coping with experiences of IPV/SA. These findings have implications for prevention of, and response to, intimate partner or sexual violence experienced by women serving in the military and underscore the need for both military and civilian communities to recognize and address the negative impact of such violence on women service members before, during, and after military service.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Sage Publications

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, MED
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, MED
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, CW
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, GT
Tulane University School of Medicine, GT


corporate culture, data analysis software, financing of research, grounded theory, interviewing, intimate partner violence, job stress, judgment sampling, military, military service, psychological aspects, psychology of veterans, qualitative, sex crimes, sexual assault, thematic analysis, women veterans

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development Service Career Development Award to Dr. Dichter (CDA #10-202) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Center for Evaluation of Patient Aligned Care Teams (CEPACT #12-005, PI: Dichter).

REACH Newsletter:

  February 2019

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