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Resources and support for sexual assault survivors receiving services from the U.S. Air Force: What survivors say they need for recovery

APA Citation:

Spencer, C. M., King, E. L., Foster, R. E., Vennum, A., & Stith, S. M. (2023). Resources and support for sexual assault survivors receiving services from the U.S. Air Force: What survivors say they need for recovery. Violence and Victims, 38(3), 414–434. https://doi.org/10.1891/VV-2021-0132

Abstract Created by REACH:

This 2-phase study took a survivor-centered approach to identifying potential improvements to the United States Air Force (USAF) sexual assault response system. In Phase 1, 9 USAFaffiliated sexual assault survivors were asked for their ideas on how the USAF prevention and support response system could be improved (e.g., how would you design a “perfect” response system?). Suggestions included improving sexual assault prevention and response training, reducing barriers to reporting sexual assault, building ongoing support and respite for survivors, and improving sexual assault services. In Phase 2, survivors (N = 82) responded to a survey that was generated from the themes and codes identified in Phase 1. Survey results reiterated the interview findings, and survivors provided many specific suggestions for improving USAF sexual assault prevention and response services.


Mental health
Physical health

Branch of Service:

Air Force

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Guard/Reserve member
Spouse of service member or veteran


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


Qualitative Study


Spencer, Chelsea M., King, Erika L., Foster, Rachel E., Vennum, Amber, Stith, Sandra M.


Sexual assault (SA) is a serious challenge faced by the U.S. military. Participants in this study included men and women who volunteered in response to a call for survivors of SA. Participants included active duty and reserve U.S. Air Force (USAF) members, spouses of service members, or civilian employees for the USAF (beneficiaries). The primary research question was, “if you could design the perfect response system to support survivors, what would be included in this system?” The research team conducted in-depth interviews with nine survivors. Next, 82 survivors completed a survey agreeing or disagreeing with strategies identified by interview participants to improve services for survivors and offered additional suggestions. Analysis revealed survivor recommendations to improve SA services.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


sexual assault

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


United States Air Force

REACH Newsletter:

  October 2023

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