*Note* This scheduling program was not designed by folks who do a lot with APA Style and unfortunately it defaults to listing authors in alphabetical order. We cannot fix this for this online schedule, but the author orders are posted in the order submitted in the printed program available via pdf here.
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Friday, March 6 • 3:45pm - 4:45pm
The Enemy Among Us: The role of sexual assault and PTSD among female U.S. veterans.

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The military has faced recent criticism for sexual assault among troops; however, more research is needed regarding prevalence and the contribution of sexual trauma to rates of PTSD among service members (Cooper, 2014; Turchik & Wilson, 2010). Furthermore, rates of PTSD and depression remain higher among women, although the causes of the are unclear . This study explored prevalence of sexual violence in the military as well as its contribution to the development of PTSD and depression. Our Midwestern sample was predominately African American (80%) service women. Using the Life Events Checklist (Blake et al., 1995), the PTSD Checklist (Weathers, 1991), and the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (Blake et al., 1995), and physician-determined depression, we assessed traumatic life events, current PTSD, PTSD symptom severity, and depression. On average, participants experienced 7 traumatic events. The most common traumatic incident reported was physical assault (80%), followed by traffic accident (71%), sexual assault (57%), and unexpected death of loved one (57%). A linear regression with the 4 most common traumas and combat found that traumatic life events significantly predicted PTSD symptom severity, adj. r2 = .60, f(5) = 11.148, p < .001, with sexual assault (b = .77, p < .001) as the only significant predictor; combat exposure was not significant (b = .17). Similarly, logistic regression found that sexual assault (B = 3.15, p = .01) was the only significant predictor of depression; combat exposure was not significant (B = .36). Although combat exposure is often believed to be the primary trigger for PTSD following military service, our findings point to sexual assault as an equal or greater risk factor. This supports the hypothesis that women more commonly suffer from PTSD and depression due to higher rates of sexual assault (Breslau et al., 1991). Implications and recommendations, including intervention and prevention measures, will be discussed.


Eric Larson

Northwestern University- Rehabiliation Institute of Chicago

Christy Starr

University of California

Friday March 6, 2015 3:45pm - 4:45pm PST