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Interpersonal Violence and OEF/OIF Reserve and National Guard Service Women

Sadler AG, Mengeling M, Booth B, Torner J. Interpersonal Violence and OEF/OIF Reserve and National Guard Service Women. Paper presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2011 Feb 18; National Harbor, MD.


Objectives: To identify interpersonal violence (IPV) experiences of OEF/OIF Reserves and National Guard (R/NG) servicewomen, including deployment associated IPV. Methods: 665 women participated in a cross-sectional study of women with current or prior OEF/OIF R/NG military service. Defense Manpower Data Center provided the sample from 5 Midwestern states. Consenting women completed a computer-assisted telephone interview assessing socio-demographic and military characteristics, trauma exposures health outcomes and care. IPV questions were modified from The Conflict Tactics scale and limited to adulthood exposures. Results: Participant median age was 37 years (range 19-66). Deployment status was: 22% never deployed, 52% deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan (I/A), and 27% deployed elsewhere than I/A. Only 2% joined the R/NG to escape domestic violence. Physical assault (hit, slapped, kicked or otherwise physically hurt) was acknowledged once-a few times by 33% and many times by 5% of participants. Almost half (49%) were serving in R/NG and 7% deployed at the time of assault(s). Being threatened with a gun once-a few times was reported by 9% with 42% of the occurrence occurring during a deployment. Being threatened with a knife or other weapon once-a few times was reported by 9% of participants with 16% occurring during deployment. Emotional mistreatment was reported at least once by 32% and many times by 19%. Of these, 19% of all occurrences were during deployment. The most frequent perpetrator types for any of these forms of IPV was spouse/partner (51%) or boyfriend (39%) followe d by military peer (20%) or superior (19%). Implications: Our findings indicate that IPV is a common experience in OEF/OIF R/NG servicewomen. While physical assault was reported to occur with greatest frequency, IPV involving a gun, knife, or other weapon; and emotional violence happened relatively more often during deployment. Impacts: The VA routinely screens for MST but not IPV. Hence, the health consequences of IPV, with and without additive deployment traumas, may be overlooked for many. Given some perpetrators were military personnel and IPV occurrence during deployments, further research is indicated to understand unique risk factors for military IPV and to determine if IPV exposure is a barrier to servicewomen seeking VA care.

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