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Addressing Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Military


The military’s image is damaged, and morale and unit cohesiveness are negatively impacted when sexual assault and harassment occur. The paper investigates the many factors contributing to sexual assault, assesses the efficacy of present training methods, and offers concrete suggestions for eliminating sexual violence in the armed forces. This study intends to provide a thorough evaluation by relying on the opinions of senior military leaders, military sources, and the recommendations included in AR 600-22 (SHARP).

Causes of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault in the military has several interconnected causes. The abuse of power is possible because of the hierarchical nature of military systems, which gives superiors access to their subordinates. The problem is made worse by gender stereotypes and conventions, which foster an environment in which victims are reluctant to come forward for fear of reprisal or lack of belief (Bennett, 2018). In addition, the stresses of military duty, like deployments and conflict, might increase the likelihood of misbehaviour.

Effectiveness of Current Training Approaches

The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) training programs exemplify the military’s attempts to reduce sexual assault. The question of these initiatives’ efficacy, however, persists. Although SHARP training lays the groundwork by informing employees of what is unacceptable, it frequently fails to address the underlying attitudes and beliefs contributing to inappropriate conduct (Sadler et al., 2018). Many claim that the compliance-oriented strategy hinders rather than promotes positive changes in behaviour. The subtleties and intricacies of the power dynamics and established attitudes that perpetuate sexual assault cannot be addressed by a simple checklist approach to training.

Ending Sexual Violence in the Military: Recommendations and Solutions

Cultural Transformation: A cultural revolution must be initiated immediately. Leaders at the highest levels of the military must demonstrate these values and create an environment where everyone is accountable for their actions (Irving, 2021). This involves understanding that sexual assault damages morale and preparedness in the military.

Comprehensive Training Overhaul: The training curriculum must be revised. It is essential to provide training that is both interactive and scenario-based so that participants can critically evaluate events, recognize power differentials, and perform bystander intervention (Irving, 2021). Realistic simulations may aid in training against and responding to sexual assault.

Bystander Intervention Promotion: It is critical to instil accountability among all employees. The “battle buddy” method may be more effective by requiring participants to intervene when they see harmful actions. Promoting a preventative posture against misbehaviour gives people the tools to step in and stop potentially harmful situations.

Empowering Reporting Mechanisms: In order to encourage victims to come forward, it is crucial to set up reporting mechanisms that are both anonymous and easy to use. If the reporting procedures specified in AR 600-22 are reviewed and updated, victims’ experiences will be addressed with compassion and efficiency (Army). 2019; Washington, D.C.

Accountability and Transparency: Establishing an open and honest investigation procedure is crucial. Dedication to justice may be shown in how wrongdoers face the consequences of their actions. The military’s dedication to ending sexual assault is evident in the results that have been made public.


Since sexual assault and harassment are so common in the armed forces, they must take preventative measures. The military may successfully prevent sexual assault by addressing the underlying reasons, reevaluating training techniques, developing a culture of respect, and conforming to AR 600-22 principles. A culture free from sexual assault can only be achieved through the concerted efforts of senior military leaders and their troops. The military can only safeguard its members’ health, safety, and preparedness by embracing change and implementing concrete actions.


Bennett, J. (2018). Combating Sexual Assault With the Military Ethic: Exploring Culture, Military Institutions, and Norms-Based Preventive Policy. Armed Forces & Society44(4), 707–730.

Department of the Army Washington, DC. (2019). UNCLASSIFIED Army Regulation 600 -8 -22.

Irving, D. (2021, November 2). Preventing Sexual Violence in the Military.

Sadler, A. G., Lindsay, D. R., Hunter, S. T., & Day, D. V. (2018). The impact of leadership on sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military. Military Psychology30(3), 252–263.


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