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J Trauma Dissociation. 2014;15(2):133-52. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2014.867563.

Victims' psychosocial well-being after reporting sexual harassment in the military.

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a National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, VA Boston Healthcare System , Boston , Massachusetts , USA.


Given the importance of reporting to sexual harassment prevention and intervention efforts, it is not surprising that an extensive scientific literature has developed on predictors of victims' decisions about making a formal report to authorities about their experiences. In contrast, little empirical work has focused on how reporting affects victims, particularly their psychosocial well-being. This study used a national sample of 1,562 former military Reservists who had experienced sexual harassment during their service to examine the relationship between reporting; experiences reporting; and psychosocial well-being, as indicated by post-harassment functioning, worst symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the harassment, and current symptoms of depression. Making a formal report was not associated with well-being, but among those who did report, perceiving that the report had resulted in the harassment being addressed by authorities was associated with better post-harassment functioning and fewer symptoms of PTSD. Satisfaction with the reporting process showed the strongest association with well-being, demonstrating small but meaningful associations with depression and medium-to-large and medium associations with post-harassment functioning and PTSD, respectively. Although findings did not vary by gender, predictors accounted for more variance in well-being for men than women. In the whole sample, satisfaction with the reporting process mediated the relationship between victims' perceptions of system responsiveness to the report and post-harassment functioning and PTSD. Findings suggest that a victim's perceptions of and satisfaction with the reporting process may impact well-being more strongly than whether the victim made a report to authorities. Men may be even more strongly impacted by their experiences with the reporting process than women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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