Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Gender and Sexuality Studies

Committee Director

Amy Milligan

Committee Member

Gail Nicula

Committee Member

Elizabeth Groeneveld


The military’s sexual assault prevention and response program is unable to effectively eliminate or even minimize occurrences of sexual assault in the service. This program focuses primarily on the elimination of sexual assault through yearly mandatory education on the current policies and procedures that occur when a victim comes forward. The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program is reactionary and unequipped to tackle a culture that continues to promote a climate in which sexual assault and harassment exist without fear of retaliation. This thesis explores these issues and provides suggestions for changes in future revisions of the SAPR program. First, the SAPR program relies heavily on the victim’s actions while simultaneously creating a complex and largely ineffective response to the accusations from one service member to another. Second, affected service members risk being ostracized in their primary communities if they come forward with claims of assault. These primary communities vary from their shop, command, squadron, and base and can overlap. Third, consent can only be truly utilized in spaces where a person is able to have complete bodily autonomy over themselves. Consent, as seen through this lens, functions as one of the ways in which service members are set up for failure when they report sexual assault or harassment. In a military environment the voluntary limits of personal freedoms are accepted and understood by service members as a reasonable cost for the benefits received. However, those benefits are insufficient when a service member finds themselves unable to report without also accepting the risk of losing everything gained under their contracted service.