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Sexual violence in military service members/veterans individual and interpersonal outcomes associated with single and multiple exposures to civilian and military sexual violence

APA Citation:

Blais, R. K., Livingston, W. S., Barrett, T. S., & Tannahill, H. S. (2023). Sexual violence in military service members/veterans individual and interpersonal outcomes associated with single and multiple exposures to civilian and military sexual violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 38(3-4), 2585-2613. https://doi.org/10.1177/08862605221101197

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined how history of sexual victimization (i.e., unwanted sexual harassment or sexual assault) was related to the mental and sexual health of Service members and Veterans (SM/Vs). 883 women SM/Vs and 556 men SM/Vs were categorized into 4 groups based on their history of sexual victimization: no sexual violence, premilitary sexual violence (PSV), military sexual violence (MSV), and revictimization (i.e., both PSV and MSV). All participants reported on their posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation. Women reported on their sexual functioning (e.g., desire) and sexual satisfaction, whereas men reported on their sexual compulsion and erectile dysfunction. Overall, SM/Vs with a history of MSV or revictimization tended to report poorer mental and sexual health than SM/Vs without a history of sexual victimization or SM/Vs with PSV only.


Mental health
Physical health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member


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


Quantitative Study


Blais, Rebecca K., Livingston, Whitney S., Barrett, Tyson S., Tannahill, Hallie S.


Sexual harassment and violence is a grave public health concern and risk for revictimization increases following initial exposure. Studies of sexual revictimization in military samples are generally limited to women and are focused on rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with no examination of how revictimization relates to interpersonal outcomes, such as relationship or sexual satisfaction. The current study addressed these gaps in a sample of 833 women and 556 men service members/veterans. Self-reported outcomes of PTSD, depression, suicidal ideation, sexual function, and relationship satisfaction were compared across those reporting exposure to sexual harassment and violence before the military only (i.e., pre-military), during the military only (i.e., military sexual harassment and violence [MSV]), before and during the military (i.e., revictimization), and to no exposure. More than half of women (51.14%, n = 426) reported revictimization and only 5.79% (n = 28) of men reported revictimization. Among women, those reporting MSV or revictimization tended to report higher PTSD, depression, and suicidal ideation relative to pre-military sexual violence and no sexual violence exposure. No interpersonal outcomes were significantly different among these sexual violence groups. Among men, revictimization was associated with higher PTSD, depression, and sexual compulsivity. PTSD and depression were also higher among those reporting MSV only. No effects were found for premilitary sexual trauma exposure only or relationship satisfaction for either group. Findings highlight the particularly bothersome nature of MSV, whether it occurred alone or in tandem with premilitary sexual violence. Findings also show unique gender differences across outcomes, suggesting interventions following sexual harassment and violence may differ for men and women.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Utah State University, RKB
Utah State University, WSL
Utah State University, TSB
Utah State University, HST
Arizona State University, RKB


sexual violence, military sexual assault, PTSD, suicidal ideation, revictimization

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


Funding for this study was provided to the first author from Division 19 (Society for Military Psychology) of the American Psychological Association and the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Sciences of Utah State University.

REACH Newsletter:

  February 2023

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