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Sexual Assault in the Military


Military sexual assault is a pervasive problem throughout the military services, despite numerous initiatives to end it. No doubt the military’s lack of progress stems from the complexity of sexual assaults, yet in order to develop effective strategies and programs to end sexual assault, deep understanding and appreciation of these complexities are needed. In this paper, we describe the root causes and numerous myths surrounding sexual assault, the military cultural factors that may unintentionally contribute to sexual assault, and the uncomfortable issues surrounding sexual assault that are often ignored (such as the prevalence of male sexual assault within the military). We conclude by offering a broad, yet comprehensive set of recommendations that considers all of these factors for developing effective strategies and programs for ending sexual assault within in the military.

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Conflict of Interest

Carl Andrew Castro, Sara Kintzle, Ashley C. Schuyler, and Carrie L. Lucas declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Christopher H. Warner declares that he is on active duty in the US Army.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Carl Andrew Castro.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Military Mental Health

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Castro, C.A., Kintzle, S., Schuyler, A.C. et al. Sexual Assault in the Military. Curr Psychiatry Rep 17, 54 (2015).

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  • Sexual assault
  • Root causes
  • Military culture
  • Myths of sexual assault