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Thu Dec 27, 2012, 10:31 AM

VA finds sexual assaults more common in war zones


VA finds sexual assaults more common in war zones
Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY11:57p.m. EST
December 26, 2012

About half of women sent to Iraq or Afghanistan report being sexually harassed, and nearly one in four say they were sexually assaulted, according to new research by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The study - based on anonymous surveys of female servicemembers who deployed to war - suggest a far higher prevalence of sexual misconduct against women in war zones than is reflected by complaints gathered by the various service branches.

In February, more than 20,000 women were serving in Afghanistan. In the preceding year, only 115 reports were filed alleging sexual assault, according to the Pentagon.

The findings show that there are traumatic strains beyond combat when troops go to war, said Amy Street, a lead researcher, clinical psychologist and a deputy director at one of VA's National Centers for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorders) in Boston.

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