Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, 2016

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by Adam Cotter

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This report is based on results from the Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces that was conducted in 2016 on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces. From April to June, 2016, active Regular Force and Primary Reserve members were invited to complete an electronic questionnaire asking about their experiences and perceptions of inappropriate sexualized behaviour, discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and sexual assault within the Canadian Armed Forces. This included seeing, hearing or experiencing these types of behaviours within the military workplace, or outside the military workplace but involving other military members or Department of Defence employees or contractors. Responses were received from over 43,000 active members of the Canadian Armed Forces, including members of the Regular Force and Primary Reserve.

This report focuses on findings from the Regular Force. Some key indicators for the Primary Reserves are also presented.

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Highlights

Section 1: Sexual assault

Section 2: Sexualized and discriminatory behaviours

Section 3: Knowledge and perceptions of policies and responses to sexual misconduct

Introduction

Sexual assault, inappropriate sexual behaviour, or discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity can have harmful effects. When these behaviours occur in the workplace, the negative consequences are felt not only by those who are targeted, but by bystanders and individuals working in the broader environment as well. In addition to the many psychological and/or physical effects, such as lower self-esteem, increased stress or anxiety, injury, and the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder, the negative impacts can also include lower levels of job satisfaction, less commitment to their organization, less workplace cohesion, increased job turnover, absenteeism, and avoidance of work or co-workers, both for the victim and those who witness the behaviour (Herschcovis and Barling 2010; Larsen and Fitzgerald 2011; Antecol and Cobb-Clark 2006; Magley et al. 1999). Within organizations, research shows that women are generally more likely to be victims or targets of these behaviours than men (Sojo, Wood, and Genat 2016; Wilness, Steel, and Lee 2007).

These inappropriate behaviours broadly characterized as sexual misconduct are not unique to any one environment or workplace. Indeed, many organizations face the challenge of adequately and effectively preventing inappropriate sexualized behaviours within their institutions, educating and changing their workforce, and providing support for those who have been the targets of sexualized or discriminatory actions or comments (Australian Human Rights Commission 2012; Herschcovis and Barling 2010; Snyder, Scherer, and Fisher 2012; Topa Cantisano, Dominguez and Depolo 2008; Maher 2010). Though many workplaces face these concerns, sexual misconduct has been perceived to be more prevalent in some occupations or institutions than in others. One such sector is the military, where international research has focused on the prevalence of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and the overall sexualized culture (Ministry of Defence 2015; Morral, Gore, and Schell 2015; see Text box 4). In particular, international and Canadian research has shown that women in traditionally male-dominated occupations or institutions–such as the military–are at greater risk of experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace (Castro et al. 2015; Leblanc and Coulthard 2015).Note 1

In 2014, an independent external review on sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was undertaken. Led by former Supreme Court judge Marie Deschamps, the review involved an independent evaluation of the effectiveness and implementation of CAF policies and programs dealing with sexual misconduct and harassment. Among other findings,Note 2 the Deschamps report concluded that there is a general sexualized culture within the CAF that is hostile to many CAF members, in particular women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) members.

In response to the report, the CAF developed an action plan and the initiative Operation Honour (Canadian Armed Forces 2016). In part, Operation Honour involves an increased commitment by the Department of National Defence (DND) to collect reliable data on the prevalence and incidence of sexual assault, inappropriate sexual behaviours, and discrimination in the workplace. To help meet this commitment, the CAF contracted Statistics Canada to design and implement a survey to measure the experiences of CAF members. The voluntary survey was conducted by Statistics Canada under the authority of the Statistics Act.

The Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (SSMCAF) invited Regular Force Members and Primary Reservists in the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force, Military Personnel Command, and other command organizations to complete a questionnaire between April and June 2016. CAF members were asked about sexual assault, sexualized behaviours, or discriminatory behaviours which occurred in a military workplace (such as on a base, while on deployment, or during a sanctioned event), or outside of a military workplace but involving other CAF members, foreign military members, or DND employees or contractors (see Text box 1 and Text box 2).

This report presents results from the SSMCAF, based on responses provided by over 43,000 active members of the CAF. Responses have been weighted so as to be representative of all Regular Force and Primary Reserve members (see Section 4). The focus of this report is on the Regular Force, which comprises the majority of the CAF; however, information on the Primary Reserves is also presented. Wherever possible, results are analyzed by sex, environmental command, age, rank, number of years of service, and other subpopulations of interest.Note 3

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Text box 1: Measuring sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces

Sexual misconduct, as defined by the Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, comprises sexual assault, inappropriate sexualized behaviours, and discriminatory behaviours on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Sexual assault

The Criminal Code of Canada covers a broad range of experiences, ranging from unwanted sexual touching to sexual violence resulting in maiming, wounding, or endangering the life of the victim, as sexual assault (Statistics Canada 1993; Kong et al. 2003). Estimates of sexual assault can be derived through three questions in the SSMCAF (see Text box 1 table).

The incidents captured by the SSMCAF were those which occurred within the military workplace, outside the military workplace but involving military members, DND employees, or DND contractors, or incidents involving family members or dating partners who were also CAF members, DND employees, or DND contractors.

The questions are designed to encompass the broad range of behaviours defined as sexual assault in the Criminal Code (Kong et al. 2003) and are the same questions used by the General Social Survey on Victimization to derive estimates of sexual assault among the general population. Beginning in 2014, the question on sexual activity to which the victim was unable to consent was added in response to an increased need for data on incidents of sexual assault involving intoxication or manipulation in other ways than physically.

Sexualized and discriminatory behaviours

The Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces asked about witnessing (i.e., seeing or hearing), as well as being personally targeted by, fifteen behaviours. These behaviours fall into five broad categories (see Text box 1 table) which, along with sexual assault, are defined as sexual misconduct.

Text table 1
Behaviours included in the definition of sexual misconduct
Table summary
This table displays the results of Behaviours included in the definition of sexual misconduct. The information is grouped by Theme (appearing as row headers), Categories and Questionnaire items (appearing as column headers).
Theme Categories Questionnaire items
Sexual assault Sexual attack Has anyone forced you or attempted to force you into any unwanted sexual activity, by threatening you, holding you down, or hurting you in some way?
Unwanted sexual touching Has anyone touched you against your will in any sexual way? This includes unwanted touching or grabbing, kissing, or fondling?
Sexual activity where unable to consent Has anyone subjected you to a sexual activity to which you were not able to consent? This includes being drugged, intoxicated, manipulated, or forced in ways other than physically.
Inappropriate sexual behaviours Inappropriate verbal or non-verbal sexual communication Sexual jokes
Unwanted sexual attention
Inappropriate sexual comments
Inappropriate discussion about sex life
Sexually explicit materials Displaying, showing, or sending sexually explicit materials
Taking and/or posting inappropriate or sexually suggestive photos or videos of any CAF members without consent
Physical contact or sexual relations Indecent exposure or inappropriate display of body parts
Repeated pressure from the same person for dates or sexual relationships
Unwelcome physical contact or getting too close
Offering workplace benefits for engaging in sexual activity or being mistreated for not engaging in sexual activity
Discriminatory behaviours (on basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity) Discrimination on the basis of sex Suggestions that people do not act like a man or woman is supposed to act
Someone being insulted, mistreated, ignored, or excluded because of their sex
Comments that people are either not good at a particular job or should be prevented from having a particular job because of their sex
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity Someone being insulted, mistreated, ignored, or excluded because of their sexual orientation or assumed sexual orientation
Someone being insulted, mistreated, ignored, or excluded because they are (or are assumed to be) transgender

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Text box 2: Key concepts for the Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces

Regular Force and Primary Reserve

The analysis in this report focuses largely on Regular Force members. Members of the Regular Force serve Canada on a full-time basis when and where needed. Unlike the Regular Force, the Primary Reserve is composed of predominantly part-time members who serve in community level units located throughout Canada and may consent to serve full-time for a range of employment within the Canadian Armed Forces, including operations for periods ranging from weeks to years. The Primary Reserves are generally a more diverse population than the Regular Force, and a high percentage are students ranging from 17 to 25 years of age. In many cases, those in the Reserves will serve for a period of less than 5 years. Primary Reservists working for extended periods full-time are more closely aligned with the Regular Force in terms of workplace and experience than those working part-time in local units. According to the SSMCAF, of the roughly 26,000 individuals currently serving in the Primary Reserves, 40% were on full-time (Class B/C) service and 60% were on part-time (Class A) service. Additionally, there is a higher proportion of women, visible minorities, and members under the age of 25 in the Primary Reserve when compared to the Regular Force.

Ranks

For the purposes of this survey, four groupings of rank within the Canadian Armed Forces are explored. From lowest ranking group to highest ranking group, these are Junior Non-Commissioned Members (for example, Private, Aviator, Corporal); Senior Non-Commissioned Members (for example, Sergeant, Petty Officer, or Warrant Officer); Junior Officers (for example, Lieutenant or Captain); and Senior Officers (for example, Major or Colonel).

Military workplace

For the purposes of this survey, the military workplace was defined as anywhere on a base, wing, or ship, including barracks and messes, as well as deployments, temporary duty/attached posting, and training courses. The military workplace also included sanctioned events (events approved by the Chain of Command or someone in authority within a unit), such as parades, mess dinners, unit parties, unit sports activities, adventure training, or course parties.

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Section 1: Sexual assault

Sexual assault is the most severe type of behaviour examined by the SSMCAF and is among the most serious violent crimes in general. Unlike many of the other behaviours examined by the SSMCAF, sexual assault is criminal in nature; the definition used in this survey is designed to be comparable to the broad definition of sexual assault as set out in the Criminal Code of Canada (see Text box 1). Respondents were asked about their experiences in the 12 months preceding the survey (since April 2015), as well as their experiences prior to April 2015 but since joining the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). This could mean that some incidents may have occurred as far back as the 1970s, considering the minimum age of entry into the CAF and the mandatory retirement age. At the same time, it is important to recognize that the survey results reflect only the experiences of those still active within the CAF,Note 4 and do not include those who have left the CAF for any reason, such as those who may have experienced victimization.

Sexual assault is more prevalent in the CAF than in the general population. Overall, 1.7% of Regular Force members reported that they were victims of sexual assault in the military workplace or involving military members in the 12 months preceding the survey (Table 1; Chart 1). This represented approximately 960 active Regular Force members. In contrast, according to the General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS), 0.9% of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 60 years of age who were active in the labour market were victims of sexual assault in the past year.Note 5 The GSS asked about all experiences of sexual assault in the past 12 months and was not limited to incidents which occurred in the workplace or involved coworkers.Note 6

Chart 1 Sexual assault among Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Regular Force members in the past 12 months, past 5 years, and since joining the CAF, by sex, 2016

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 1. The information is grouped by Incidents of sexual assault (appearing as row headers), Women, Men and Total, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Incidents of sexual assault Women MenNote  Total
percent
Past 12 months 4.8Note * 1.2 1.7
Past 5 yearsNote 1 10.4Note * 2.0 3.1
Since joining the Canadian Armed ForcesNote 1 27.3Note * 3.8 7.1

Unwanted sexual touching was the most common form of sexual assault reported by Regular Force members, with about 840 Regular Force members, or 1.5%, stating that they were victims of unwanted sexual touching in the past 12 months. This was higher than the proportion who reported being sexually attacked (0.3%) or being subjected to sexual activity to which they were unable to consent (0.2%).

Of all Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months, about three-quarters (77%) reported that they were victims of unwanted sexual touching and no other type of sexual assault (Chart 2). Male victims were more likely than female victims to have experienced unwanted sexual touching and no other type (80% versus 71%). While a smaller proportion of victims reported sexual attacks and no other type (7%) or sexual activity to which they were unable to consent and no other type (4%), 12% were victims of more than one type of sexual assault.Note 7 Women who were victims of sexual assault were more likely than male victims to report being the victim of more than one type of sexual assault (15% versus 11%).

Chart 2 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months, by type of sexual assault, 2016

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 2. The information is grouped by Type of sexual assault (appearing as row headers), Percent (appearing as column headers).
Type of sexual assault Percent
Sexual attacks and no other type 7
Sexual activity to which the victim is unable to consent and no other type 4
Multiple types of sexual assaultNote 1 12
Unwanted sexual touching and no other type 77

Women at greater risk of sexual assault than men

As is the case within the general population, men and women in the Regular Force were not equally at risk of sexual assault. Overall, 1.2% of male Regular Force members were victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months, compared to 4.8% of female members (Table 2; Chart 1). These proportions were 4 and 3 times higher, respectively, than among the general working population in Canada.Note 8 For both women and men in the Regular Force, incidents of unwanted sexual touching were more common than sexual attacks or sexual activity to which the victim was unable to consent. Unwanted sexual touching was reported by 4.0% of women and 1.1% of men in the Regular Force, above the proportions who reported sexual attacks (0.9% and 0.2%, respectively) or sexual activity to which they were unable to consent (0.7% and 0.1%, respectively).

In addition to differences by sex, several other characteristics were related to an increased risk of sexual assault. Just as younger Canadians in general are more likely to be victims of sexual assault,Note 9 younger Regular Force members were more likely to report sexual assault in the past 12 months. Those who were 29 years of age or younger were about three times more likely than those who were 40 years of age or older to report being sexually assaulted in the military workplace or in an incident involving military members in the past 12 months. For all age groups, women reported a higher prevalence of sexual assault than men. Notably, among Regular Force members who were 24 years of age or younger, the proportion of those who were victims of sexual assault was approximately five times higher among women compared to men (10.2% versus 2.1%). Regardless of age group, unwanted sexual touching was the most common form of sexual assault.

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Text box 3: Sexual assault over the course of the military career

The differing prevalence of sexual assault among male and female Regular Force members becomes even more pronounced when looking at experiences of victimization over the course of the military career. Approximately 4,000 Regular Force members stated that they had been sexually assaulted at some point since joining the CAF, representing 7.1% of current Regular Force members (Table 1; Chart 1).Note 10Note 11 Reflecting the trends observed among victims of sexual assault in the past year, unwanted sexual touching was the most common type of sexual assault reported by Regular Force members: 6.3% of Regular Force members reported unwanted sexual touching at some point in their military career, while a smaller proportion reported being the victim of sexual activity to which they were unable to consent (1.9%) or of a sexual attack (1.8%).

Over one-quarter of women in the Regular Force report being sexually assaulted at some point in their military career

More than one-quarter (27.3%) of women stated that they had been victims of sexual assault in the workplace or involving military members, DND employees, or DND contractors at some point in their career, a proportion that was about seven times higher than that for men (3.8%) (Chart 1). Women were about seven times more likely than men to report the most common type of sexual assault, unwanted sexual touching, at any point since joining the CAF (24.0% versus 3.4%). In addition, women were about 18 times more likely than men to report being the victim of a sexual attack (9.8% versus 0.5%) and 12 times more likely to report an incident of sexual activity where they were unable to consent (8.7% versus 0.7%).

Ten percent of female Regular Force members sexually assaulted in past five years

As would be expected, the proportions of men and women who reported sexual assault in their military career are higher among those with longer tenures. Most notably, among women with 15 or more years of service in the CAF, almost four in ten (37.7%) have been sexually assaulted at least once. Among male Regular Force members with similar tenures in the CAF, 4.0% reported being sexually assaulted at least once. That said, past experiences of sexual assault are not entirely historical cases; 2.0% of men and 10.4% of women reported that they were sexually assaulted in the past 5 years.Note 12

It should be noted that these estimates–both for men and for women–likely underrepresent the lifetime or past five-year prevalence of sexual assault in the military workplace or involving military members, as the SSMCAF was administered only to current CAF members. Therefore, those who may have been on administrative, medical, or parental leave or those who may have chosen to leave the CAF as a result of their victimization or for any other reason were not included in the survey.

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Women more likely to be sexually assaulted by a supervisor; men by a peer

Half (49%) of female Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months indicated that a supervisor or someone of a higher rank was the perpetrator, compared to just over one-third of male victims (36%) (Table 3; Chart 3). In contrast, sexual assault committed by a peer was more common among male victims (56% compared to 42% of female victims). Further, 6% of Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault indicated that the perpetrator was an intimate partner (dating partner, spouse, or common-law partner) who was also a CAF member or DND employee or contractor, a proportion that was similar for male and female victims.Note 13 A similar proportion of men and women who were victims of sexual assault in the military workplace or involving military members stated that the perpetrator was a stranger (9% and 7%E, respectively).

Chart 3 Sexual assaults reported by Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Regular Force members, by relationship to perpetrator and sex of victim, past 12 months, 2016

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 3. The information is grouped by Relationship (appearing as row headers), Women and Men, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Relationship Women MenNote 
percent
Other 10 8
Stranger 7Note E: Use with caution 9
Intimate partner (dating partner, spouse, common-law partner) 7 5Note E: Use with caution
Subordinate, either in or outside chain of command 13Note * 25
Peer 42Note * 56
Supervisor or higher rank 49Note * 36

About two-thirds (65%) of sexual assault victims stated that the perpetrator was a male. However, this varied considerably depending on the sex of the victim; 45% of men who were victims of sexual assault stated that the perpetrator was male compared with 94% of female victims. One-third (34%) of male victims of sexual assault stated that the person(s) responsible were women, while one in five (19%) stated that both men and women were responsible.

The majority (71%) of Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault stated that a lone person was responsible. Again, there was a difference between male and female victims of sexual assault in this regard; 61% of men identified a lone perpetrator compared with 85% of women. Overall, in the general population, 79% of sexual assaults were committed by a lone offender (Perreault 2015).

While there were differences by the sex of the victim, the characteristics of the perpetrator(s) were generally similar regardless of the type of sexual assault experienced.Note 14 For example, victims of sexual attacks (41%), unwanted sexual touching (42%), and sexual activity to which they were unable to consent (41%) were equally likely to state that a supervisor or someone of higher rank was responsible. Likewise, for all three types of sexual assault measured by the survey, sexual attacks, unwanted sexual touching, and sexual activity to which the victim was unable to consent, the majority of victims stated that the perpetrator was male (60%, 64%, and 66%, respectively) and that the incident involved a lone perpetrator (60%, 70%, and 67%, respectively). However, some differences were observed. For instance, victims were more likely to state that a peer or peers were responsible for unwanted sexual touching (52%) than for sexual activity to which the victim was unable to consent (41%) or sexual attacks (32%).

One-quarter of sexual assault victims reported to someone in authority

Approximately one in four (23%) victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months reported at least one incident to someone in authority. The majority (59%) of victims did not report their sexual assault to anyone in authority, while the remainder (18%) did not know if anyone in authority found out about the incident(s) in any way. Sexual attacks were more likely to be brought to the attention of someone in authority (35%) than incidents of unwanted sexual touching (21%) or sexual activity to which the victim was unable to consent (21%). Female Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault were more likely to report their victimization to someone in authority when compared to male victims (29% versus 20%).

One in five (20%) Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault reported at least one incident to their military supervisor, while sexual assault was less commonly reported to either military or civilian police. Of those who were victims, 7% reported at least one incident to the Military Police or the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS). This was similar to results from the General Social Survey, which indicated that 5%E of all non-spousal sexual assault incidents were reported to police (Perreault 2015). That said, the more serious forms of sexual assault measured by the SSMCAF were more likely to be reported to Military Police or CFNIS. One in five Regular Force members who were victims of sexual attack (22%) or sexual activity to which they were unable to consent (21%E) reported the incident to Military Police or CFNIS, compared with 5% of those who were victims of unwanted sexual touching.

Over half (55%) of Regular Force members who reported their sexual assault to someone in authority other than the police were referred to the Military Police or the CFNIS, the most common response. An additional 49% of victims were referred to medical or mental health services. Among those who reported the sexual assault to the Military Police or CFNIS, the majority (80%) stated that there was a report or investigation conducted.Note 15 Half (50%) of those who reported the assault to an authority figure were satisfied with the action(s) taken, as were four in ten (39%) of those who reported the assault to the Military Police or CFNIS.

Female victims of sexual assault more likely to cite fear of negative consequences or concerns with formal reporting process as reasons for not reporting

Many Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault did not report the incident to anyone in authority because they resolved it informally on their own, the most common reason provided for not reporting (43% and 41% for women and men, respectively) (Chart 4). In contrast, there was a clearer divide between men and women when it came to other reasons for not reporting the behaviour to someone in authority. Women who were sexually assaulted were considerably more likely to not report the behaviour to someone in authority because they were afraid of negative consequences (35% compared with 14% of men who were victims) or because they had concerns about the formal complaint process (18% versus 7%). This may be related to the higher proportion of female victims who identified the perpetrator as a supervisor or someone of higher rank compared to male victims.

Chart 4 Reasons for not reporting sexual assault to someone in authority, by sex, past 12 months, 2016

Data table for Chart 4
Data table for chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 4. The information is grouped by Reason (appearing as row headers), Women and Men, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Reason Women MenData table Note 
percent
Other 18Note * 25
Concerns about formal complaint process 18Note * 7
Afraid of negative consequences 35Note * 14
Behaviour stopped 26 22
Did not believe it would make a difference 25 22
Not serious enough 23Note * 40
Resolved on my own 43 41

Men were twice as likely as women to consider the behaviour not serious enough to report (40% versus 23%). Of note, a small proportion of victims of sexual assault did not report the incident(s) to anyone in authority because they changed jobs (5%E) or the person(s) responsible changed jobs (3%E).Note 16

In addition, Regular Force members provided different reasons for not reporting their victimization to someone in authority depending on the type of sexual assault. Approximately four in ten victims of sexual attacks (43%) and sexual activity to which they were unable to consent (39%) did not report their victimization to anyone in authority because they were afraid of negative consequences, twice the proportion of those who were victims of unwanted sexual touching (21%). In contrast, victims of unwanted sexual touching were most likely to state that they did not report their victimization because they resolved it on their own (41%) or because they did not consider it serious enough (34%).

Most Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault did not consult any services, such as CAF or civilian medical, mental health, or spiritual services, due to their victimization (85%). Male victims were less likely to use services when compared to female victims, as 92% of men and 74% of women did not consult any services. About one in eight (14%) Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months consulted a military-based service, compared with 4% who consulted civilian services and 4% who used other unspecified services.Note 17 More specifically, a minority of Regular Force victims of sexual assault contacted or used a CAF chaplain (9%), CAF medical services (6%), a Workplace Relations Advisor or Harassment Advisor (5%), or the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (3%E).

Military base or wing most common location of sexual assault

For both male and female victims of sexual assault, the most common location of the incident was a military base or wing (63% of male victims and 48% of female victims), followed by the mess (23% of men and 18% of women). For women, the next most common locations of incidents were outside the military workplace: in a private residence (15%) or at a commercial or institutional establishment (11%). In contrast, for male victims the next most common locations were during field exercises (22%) or on a ship at sea or in port (19%). Of note, 9% of Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault stated that at least one incident occurred while they were deployed. This proportion was higher among male victims (11%) than among female victims (4%).

Regardless of the type of sexual assault, the majority of Regular Force members who were victims stated that at least one incident occurred within the military workplace. That said, unwanted sexual touching was more likely to have occurred in the military workplace (91%) than sexual attacks (80%) or sexual activity to which the victim was unable to consent (73%). Notably, 17%E of Regular Force members who were victims of a sexual attack stated that it occurred while on course in a military school, compared to 9% of those who experienced unwanted sexual touching. Sexual attacks were also more likely than unwanted sexual touching to occur in the barracks (22%E versus 11%).Note 18

Likewise, unwanted sexual touching was least likely to have occurred outside the military workplace, such as in a private residence. Just over one-quarter (27%) of Regular Force members who experienced unwanted sexual touching stated that it occurred outside the military workplace. In contrast, this was the case for nearly half (47%) of those who were victims of sexual attacks and six in ten (60%) of those who were victims of sexual activity to which they were unable to consent.

Four in ten (40%) women and one-quarter (25%) of men who were sexually assaulted in the past 12 months believed that the incident was related to the perpetrator’s alcohol or drug use (Table 4). The consumption of alcohol at CAF-sanctioned or CAF-related events had been previously cited by several members as a factor which contributed to the overall occurrence of sexual assault or sexual harassment within the CAF (Deschamps 2015). That said, 54% of sexual assault incidents in the general population were perceived to be related to the drug or alcohol use of the perpetrator (Perreault 2015).

Sexual assault results in more negative emotional consequences for women than for men

Not only were women in the Regular Force more likely to report being sexually assaulted in the past 12 months than their male counterparts, they were also more likely to report negative emotional consequences as a result (Table 4).Female victims most often cited being angry (53%), being upset (49%), and being more cautious or aware (48%) due to their victimization, well above the proportion of male victims who cited these feelings (28%, 24%, and 28%, respectively).

Three in ten (29%) male victims of sexual assault stated that they experienced no negative emotional consequences at all as a result of the incident.Note 19 A further 21% of men stated that the incident did not have much of an impact, more than double the proportion recorded among female victims (8%). Being annoyed (39%) was the most frequently cited negative emotional outcome among male victims.

Though it was the least reported emotional consequence, similar proportions of women (7%) and men (5%E) who were victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months reported that they had suicidal thoughts as a result of the incident. Additionally, female victims were more likely than male victims to report having received professional help in order to cope with the emotional consequences of the incident (24% versus 10%)Note 20 and to have had difficulty carrying out everyday activities as a result of the incident (26% versus 13%). Overall, 7% of those who were sexually assaulted were physically injured as a result.Note 21

Victims of sexual assault also reported different negative emotional consequences depending on the type of victimization. For example, Regular Force members who were sexually attacked most commonly stated that they were upset (55%), angry (54%), or frustrated (50%) as a result of the incident, while those who were subjected to sexual activity to which they were unable to consent were often upset (52%), more cautious and aware (52%), and felt a loss of trust (50%). In contrast, those who were victims of unwanted sexual touching were less likely to report negative emotional consequences. Victims of unwanted sexual touching most typically stated that they were annoyed (43%), angry (36%), and more cautious or aware (33%).

Sexual assault in the past 12 months more prevalent among Primary Reservists than those in the Regular Force

Approximately 2.6% of Primary Reservists were victims of sexual assault in the military workplace or involving other military members in the past 12 months; 8.2% of women in the Reserves and 1.4% of men reported being sexually assaulted. This proportion was higher than that reported among Regular Force members, which may be related to a number of factors such as the higher proportion of women in the Primary Reserves, the younger population in the Primary Reserves, and the prevalence of sexual assault during training exercises, which are more common among this population.

Unwanted sexual touching was the most common form of sexual assault reported by Primary Reservists, with 2.2% stating that at least one incident of unwanted sexual touching occurred in the past 12 months. This proportion was about six times higher than the proportion reporting either sexual attacks (0.4%) or sexual activity to which they were unable to consent (0.4%E).Note 22

In total, about 2,100 current members of the Primary Reserves, or 8.1%, reported having been sexually assaulted at least once since joining the CAF. As was the case among Regular Force members, women in the Primary Reserves were about seven times more likely than their male counterparts to have been sexually assaulted at any point during their military tenure (28.6% versus 3.9%). Unwanted sexual touching, reported by 24.8% of women and 3.5% of men in the Primary Reserves, was the most common form of sexual assault. That said, women were also considerably more likely than men to have been sexually attacked (10.3% versus 0.4%E) or to have been subjected to sexual activity to which they were unable to consent (9.6% versus 0.5%).

Though overall, the prevalence of sexual assault during the military career was similar between those in the Primary Reserves and those in the Regular Force, it should be noted that, in general, those in the Primary Reserves had served fewer years in the CAF than those in the Regular Force. For example, 37% of Primary Reserve members had five or fewer years of service, compared with 14% of those in the Regular Force.Note 23

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Text box 4: National and international studies on sexual harassment or sexual victimization

Other countries have undertaken studies to determine the prevalence of sexual misconduct in the military workplace, as well as its characteristics, its reporting, and its resolution. Aside from the Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (SSMCAF) and a survey on harassment conducted earlier by the Department of National Defence,Note 24 the United States and the United Kingdom, among others, have also conducted surveys on sexual harassment and sexual assault aimed at members of the Armed Forces. These surveys, while not directly comparable to the SSMCAF, show that inappropriate sexual behaviour within the military is not solely a concern in Canada.

While some results are presented here, it is important to take into consideration that none of the surveys used the same methodology. Since the questions themselves, the definitions, collection modes, population and other methodological aspects differ from one survey to another, any direct comparisons between these surveys and the SSMCAF should not be made. Selected results are presented here for the purposes of illustrating some of the international and Canadian research regarding inappropriate sexual behaviour in the military.

Sexual assault and sexual harassment in the U.S. Military, 2014

  • The survey defines sexual harassment as any sexual language, gestures, images, or behaviours that offend or anger service members
  • Three mutually exclusive categories of definition are provided for sexual assault
  • The information was collected with respect to respondents’ lifetime, that is, before they joined the army or during their military career, as well as for the last 12 months
  • All women in the active-duty force were selected, as were 25% of men in the active-duty force, and a sample of women and men in the reserve component. The response rate was approximately 30% (active-duty force) and 23% (reserve component)

The results of this survey show that 1% of men and 5% of women experienced at least one type of sexual assault in the last year.

Your Say Survey (YSS) for Regular Force members, British Army 2013

  • No specific definition of sexual harassment was given in the questionnaire. A matrix of behaviours was used instead to identify people who had been targets
  • Information on specific sexual behaviours was collected for the last 12 months and for the respondents’ lifetime, regardless of military workplace
  • The survey was mailed to a sample of active-duty and reserve personnel: all women and a sample of men were selected. The response rate was 30%

The results of the report show that 9 in 10 individuals had been in situations in which inappropriate sexual behaviour occurred. Those who had been the target of behaviours found the behaviours more offensive than did those who had not experienced them. Slightly more than 10% of women reported having been the target of an inappropriate sexual behaviour. In 2014, approximately 1% of men and 2% of women were the target of sexual assault.

The General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization (see Section 1 and footnotes 4, 8, and 9 for selected results and GSS 2014 for methodological information) and the Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey (CFMHS) are other examples of surveys recently conducted in Canada that deal directly or indirectly with sexual misconduct in the general population.

The Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey (CFMHS) surveyed 9,200 members of the Canadian Armed Forces and an additional 2,250 members of the Primary Reserve who had been deployed. Results were collected using face-to-face interviews. Among other topics, information was collected on sexual misconduct experienced in the last 12 months, both within and outside of the military workplace, and on sexual misconduct experienced before the age of 16. Selected results and methodology are available: Mental health of the Canadian Armed Forces and CFMHS 2013.

End of text box 4

Section 2: Sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the workplace

Sexualized behaviour in the workplace does not necessarily take the form of sexual assault. Sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the workplace, while not criminal in nature, may contribute to an overall culture in which certain members feel personally targeted or perhaps vulnerable to more serious behaviours. Furthermore, the prevalence of such behaviours can contribute to a more general sense that sexualized behaviours, including sexual assault, are banal, routine, or not taken seriously by those in authority. Thus, in addition to asking CAF members about sexual assault which occurred in the workplace or involving other military members,Note 25 the SSMCAF also asked CAF members about a variety of other sexualized and discriminatory behaviours which, unlike sexual assault are not typically criminal in nature, can contribute to a broader sexualized culture in which relatively higher rates of sexual assault may be observed.

More specifically, the SSMCAF asked CAF members about ten types of generalized sexualized behaviour in the workplace which, broadly, fall into three categories (see Text box 1): inappropriate verbal and non-verbal sexual communication,Note 26 behaviours involving sexually explicit materials,Note 27 and unwanted physical contact or suggested sexual relations.Note 28 In addition to these sexualized behaviours, the SSMCAF asked about five types of discriminatory behaviour which can be classified into two groups: discrimination on the basis of sexNote 29 and sexual orientation or gender identity.Note 30

2.1 Sexualized behaviours

Witnessing (i.e., seeing or hearing) or experiencing sexualized behaviour in the workplace was common among Regular Force members, with four in five (79%) stating that they had witnessed or experienced at least one of the ten types of sexualized behaviour in the past 12 months (Table 5). Inappropriate verbal or non-verbal communication was by far the most frequent type of behaviour, reported by 78% of Regular Force members. Physical contact or sexual relationships and behaviours involving sexually explicit materials were less common, reported by 15% and 14% of Regular Force members, respectively.

More specifically, sexual jokes were the most common type of sexualized behaviour reported by Regular Force members (76%), followed by inappropriate sexual comments (39%) and inappropriate discussions about sex life (34%). In contrast, smaller proportions of Regular Force members stated that they had witnessed or experienced repeated pressure for dates or sexual relationships (4%), taking or posting inappropriate or suggestive photos of any CAF members without consent (3%), or offering workplace benefits in exchange for sexual activity or mistreatment for not engaging in sexual activity (2%).

Not only were sexual jokes the most commonly reported type of sexual behaviour in the workplace, they also tended to occur more frequently than other types of behaviour. Nearly half (46%) of Regular Force members who reported sexual jokes occurring in the workplace stated that this behaviour occurred ten or more times in the past 12 months, well above the proportion for any other type of behaviour (Table 5).

Women see, hear, or experience sexualized behaviour in the workplace more than men

Overall, the proportion of women who reported witnessing or experiencing sexualized behaviours in the workplace was higher than the proportion of men (82% compared with 79%). Women in the Regular Force were more likely than men to report witnessing or experiencing seven of the ten sexualized behaviours measured by the survey in the past 12 months (Chart 5). Men and women were equally likely to report the displaying or showing of sexually explicit materials, indecent exposure or inappropriate display of body parts, and offering workplace benefits in exchange for sexual activity or mistreatment for not engaging in sexual activity.

Chart 5 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Regular Force members seeing, hearing or experiencing sexualized behaviours in the military workplace in the past 12 months, 2016

Data table for Chart 5
Data table for chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 5. The information is grouped by Type of sexualized behaviour (appearing as row headers), Women and Men, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Type of sexualized behaviour Women MenData table Note 
percent
Workplace benefits 2 2
Repeated pressure for dates 8Note * 3
Photos or videos without consent 4Note * 3
Indecent exposure 6 7
Unwanted contact 20Note * 9
Sexually explicit materials 13 13
Unwanted sexual attention 27 17
Discussion about sex life 40Note * 33
Sexual comments 45Note * 38
Sexual jokes 78Note * 76

While for some specific behaviours the difference between men and women was slight, there were some considerable differences for others. Notably, the proportion of women who reported seeing, hearing, or experiencing repeated pressure from the same person for dates or sexual relationships was about three times that of men (8% versus 3%), and women were about two times more likely to witness or experience unwelcome physical contact (20% versus 9%) or unwanted sexual attention (27% versus 17%).

Seeing, hearing, or experiencing sexualized behaviour similar across command organizations and years of service

Marginal differences were observed when looking at the prevalence of sexualized behaviour in the past 12 months across organizations in the CAF, as about four in five Regular Force members of the Royal Canadian Navy (82%), Canadian Army (79%), Royal Canadian Air Force (78%), Military Personnel Command (78%), or other command organizations (77%) reported witnessing or experiencing sexualized behaviour (Table 6).

Regardless of years of service in the Regular Force, members were fairly equally likely to have seen, heard, or experienced sexualized behaviour, with the exception of those with more than 25 years of service. Overall, 73% of those with more than 25 years of service in the Regular Force witnessed or experienced sexualized behaviour in the past 12 months, compared with about eight in ten of those with fewer years of service. Similarly, the proportion of Regular Force members who witnessed or experienced sexualized behaviour was close to eight in ten across all age groups with the exception of members who were 50 years of age or older (69%) (Table 6).

2.2 Discriminatory behaviours

Compared to sexualized behaviours, witnessing or experiencing discriminatory behaviours in the workplace was less common among Regular Force members. That said, about one-third (34%) of all Regular Force members, indicated that discriminatory comments or statements on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity were made within the past 12 months (Table 5). Discrimination on the basis of sex (32%) was more commonly reported than discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (10%).Note 31 More specifically, suggestions that people do not act like men or women should act (22%) and comments that people are not good at or should not have their jobs because of their sex (18%) were the most common discriminatory behaviours reported by Regular Force members.

Women report discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity more frequently than men

Witnessing or experiencing discriminatory behaviours in the workplace was more common among female Regular Force members, with 45% of women and 32% of men reporting such behaviours in the past 12 months. This difference held when looking both at discrimination on the basis of sex (42% of women versus 30% of men) and on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (16% versus 9%).

More specifically, women were more likely to see, hear, or experience each of the five discriminatory behaviours measured by the survey. The largest difference was noted when it came to someone being insulted, mistreated, ignored, or excluded because of their sex, which was reported by 24% of women compared to 9% of men.

2.3 Perceived offensiveness of sexualized or discriminatory behaviours in the workplace

Beyond observing or experiencing the behaviours in the workplace, the way in which they are interpreted is also an important consideration. In addition to asking CAF members if they had ever seen, heard, or experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviours in the workplace, the SSMCAF also asked if they considered these to be offensive.

Sexual jokes, the most prevalent behaviour, were perceived to be the least offensive, with 10% of Regular Force members who reported sexual jokes stating that they were somewhat or very offensive (Chart 6). In contrast, many of the less-frequently reported behaviours were perceived by Regular Force members to be the most offensive. For instance, while the offering of workplace benefits in exchange for engaging in sexual activity or workplace mistreatment for not engaging in sexual activity was the least common sexualized behaviour, reported by 2% of Regular Force members, 51% of those who witnessed or experienced it perceived it to be offensive, more than any other sexualized behaviour measured in the survey.

Chart 6 Perceived offensiveness of sexualized or discriminatory behaviours seen, heard, or experienced in the past 12 months, by type of behaviour, 2016

Data table for Chart 6
Data table for chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 6. The information is grouped by Sexualized or discriminatory behaviour (appearing as row headers), Witnessed or experienced behaviour and Believed that behaviour was offensive, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Sexualized or discriminatory behaviour Witnessed or experienced behaviour Believed that behaviour was offensiveNote 1
percent
Workplace benefits 2 51
Photos or videos without consent 3 42
Repeated pressure for dates 4 47
Discrimination based on gender identity 5 58
Indecent exposure 7 33
Discrimination based on sexual orientation 8 62
Unwanted contact 10 45
Mistreatment due to sex 11 63
Sexually explicit materials 13 29
Comments about sex and job suitability 18 48
Unwanted sexual attention 18 32
Stereotyping based on sex 22 35
Inappropriate discussion about sex life 34 26
Inappropriate sexual comments 39 32
Sexual jokes 76 10

Discriminatory behaviours were more likely to be considered offensive than sexualized behaviours. Close to six in ten of those who saw, heard, or experienced someone being insulted, mistreated, ignored, or excluded because of their sex (63%), sexual orientation (62%), or gender identity (58%) stated that this behaviour was offensive.

For each of the 15 behaviours measured, women were more likely to consider them to be offensive when compared to men (Chart 7). Notably, while sexual jokes were considered the least offensive behaviour regardless of sex, the proportion of women considering them to be offensive was about twice that of men (19% versus 9%). Women were also proportionately twice as likely as men to consider displaying, showing, or sending sexually explicit materials or messages to be offensive (52% versus 25%). Other research, both inside and outside of the context of the military, has suggested that in general, men are less likely to perceive sexualized behaviour in the workplace as offensive or harmful (Berdahl and Aquino 2009; Chan et al. 2008).

Chart 7 Perceived offensiveness of sexualized or discriminatory behaviours seen, heard, or experienced in the past 12 months, by type of behaviour and sex, 2016

Data table for Chart 7
Data table for chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 7. The information is grouped by Sexualized or discriminatory behaviour (appearing as row headers), Women and Men, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Sexualized or discriminatory behaviour Women MenNote 
percent
Workplace benefits 81Note * 46
Photos or videos without consent 64Note * 37
Repeated pressure for dates 65Note * 39
Discrimination based on gender identity 74Note * 54
Indecent exposure 54Note * 30
Discrimination based on sexual orientation 76Note * 58
Unwanted contact 60Note * 40
Mistreatment due to sex 78Note * 57
Sexually explicit materials 52Note * 25
Comments about sex and job suitability 73Note * 41
Unwanted sexual attention 51Note * 27
Stereotyping based on sex 57Note * 30
Inappropriate discussion about sex life 43Note * 23
Inappropriate sexual comments 49Note * 29
Sexual jokes 19Note * 9

Personally experiencing sexualized or discriminatory behaviour (see Section 2.4) as opposed to seeing or hearing behaviour but not being personally targeted was also related to perceptions of offensiveness. In most cases, Regular Force members who experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour were more likely than those who witnessed them to believe that these behaviours were offensive. The largest difference was noted when it came to suggestions that men or women should not have certain jobs because of their sex. While 74% of those targeted by such suggestions believed that they were offensive, 44% of those who witnessed or overheard these comments felt likewise.

In contrast, displaying, showing, or sending sexually explicit messages or materials, the taking or posting of inappropriate or sexually suggestive photos or videos without consent, and discrimination on the basis of gender identity were equally likely to be considered offensive by those who experienced them and those who witnessed them. Additionally, those who witnessed indecent exposure or inappropriate display of body parts were slightly more likely than those who were personally targeted by this behaviour to consider it to be offensive (35% versus 32%).

2.4 Personal experiences of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour

The SSMCAF asked not only about seeing or hearing sexualized or discriminatory behaviours in the workplace, but also whether or not CAF members had been the target of any of these behaviours within the past 12 months. Of those who reported witnessing sexualized behaviour in the workplace, most reported seeing or hearing the behaviour but not having personally experienced it (Table 7). Overall, approximately 9,200 Regular Force members, or 17%, stated that they were the target of one or more sexualized or discriminatory behaviours in the workplace in the past 12 months.Note 32 While the general prevalence of these behaviours in the workplace may impact the overall culture and morale of the work environment, being targeted by these behaviours can have more direct negative consequences for those who personally experienced them.

Sexual jokes were the most common type of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour personally experienced in the workplace, with just over one in ten (13%) Regular Force members having been targeted in the past 12 months. Inappropriate discussion about sex life (6%) and inappropriate sexual comments (5%) were the next most common types of targeted behaviour. Among the types of sexualized behaviours that were relatively less frequent, less than one percent of Regular Force members stated that they were personally targeted by the taking or posting of inappropriate or sexually suggestive photos or videos of themselves without their consent, or being offered workplace benefits in exchange for sexual activity or of being mistreated for not engaging in sexual activity (both 0.3%).

Similar to most types of sexualized behaviour, however, discriminatory behaviour was more commonly seen or overheard than personally experienced among Regular Force members. Suggestions that people do not act like men or women are supposed to act were the most common type of discriminatory behaviour personally experienced, cited by 4% of Regular Force members.

Female Regular Force members more likely to experience sexualized or discriminatory behaviours

Beyond the overall proportion of CAF members who have experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviours, it is also important to explore how these experiences differ depending on individual characteristics. Not only are some subpopulations more likely to experience these types of behaviour in the workplace, individual or occupational characteristics, such as sex, age, or rank can influence the types of impact these experiences will have (Chan et al. 2008).

Women were more likely than men to state that they were personally targeted by each of the 15 types of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour measured by the SSMCAF (Table 7). Overall, about one-third (31%) of women in the Regular Force reported being personally targeted in the past 12 months, which was twice the proportion of men (15%). Both women and men were most likely to report being the target of sexual jokes (19% and 12%, respectively). Unwanted sexual attention was the second most frequently experienced behaviour for women (15%), while being less common among male Regular Force members (2%). Additionally, the proportion of women who experienced repeated pressure from the same person for dates or sexual relationships in the past 12 months was about 14 times higher than the proportion of men (6% versus 0.4%).

Women in the Regular Force were also more likely to report being the target of discriminatory comments or behaviours in the workplace. About one-fifth (16%) of women reported personally experiencing discriminatory behaviour on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, a proportion four times higher than that reported by men (4%) (Table 8). More specifically, women were considerably more likely than men to report being insulted, mistreated, ignored, or excluded because of their sex (11% versus 1%) and hearing that they were not good at particular jobs or should not have particular jobs because of their sex (10% versus 1%).

Younger Regular Force members, particularly women, more likely to have experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviours

Younger Regular Force members were more likely to report personally experiencing sexualized or discriminatory behaviours in the workplace (Table 8). Among Regular Force members who were 24 years of age or younger, one-quarter (25%) experienced sexual or discriminatory behaviour in the past 12 months. The proportion reporting this behaviour in the past 12 months declined steadily with age, falling to fewer than one in ten (8%) among Regular Force members who were 50 years of age or older.

Though the proportion of those who experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour decreased with age for both men and women, the proportion of women experiencing such behaviours remained two to three times higher than that of men across all age groups (Chart 8). In particular, while one in five (22%) male Regular Force members who were 24 years of age or under had been personally targeted by sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the past 12 months, this was the case for more than half (54%) of their female counterparts.

Chart 8 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Regular Force members personally experiencing sexualized or discriminatory behaviours in the military workplace in the past 12 months, by age group and sex, 2016

Data table for Chart 8
Data table for chart 8
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 8. The information is grouped by Age group (appearing as row headers), Women and Men, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group Women MenData table Note 
percent
24 years and under 54Note * 22
25 to 29 years 43Note * 21
30 to 34 years 36Note * 19
35 to 39 years 30Note * 14
40 to 44 years 25Note * 10
45 to 49 years 21Note * 8
50 years and over 19Note * 6

Start of text box 5

Text box 5: Sexualized or discriminatory behaviours targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender Regular Force members

In addition to highlighting the different experiences of men and women in the Canadian military, the external review of sexual misconduct in the CAF (Deschamps 2015) also made note of the impact of a sexualized culture on those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).Note 33 According to the SSMCAF, 3% of Regular Force members self-identified as LGBT.

LGBT Regular Force members were more likely than non-LGBT members to have been victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months (5.6% compared with 1.6%). Among men, LGBT members were three times more likely to have been sexually assaulted in the past year (3.5%E versus 1.1%). Among women, the proportion of LGBT members who were sexually assaulted was almost double the proportion recorded for non-LGBT members (8.8% compared with 4.5%).

Likewise, LGBT Regular Force members personally experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour at a higher rate than non-LGBT members. LGBT members were twice as likely to personally experience sexualized behaviour (32% compared to 16% of non-LGBT members), while they were four times more likely to be the targets of discrimination (20% versus 5%). One in ten (10%) LGBT Regular Force members stated that they were personally discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the past 12 months, compared to less than one percent (0.4%) of non-LGBT members.

End of text box 5

Women more often report negative emotional impacts of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour

As was the case with sexual assault, women were more likely than men to report negative emotional consequences as a result of targeted sexualized or discriminatory behaviour (Chart 9). Women were most likely to cite being annoyed, frustrated, or angry as a result of their experiences of sexualized or discriminatory behaviours. Both men and women were least likely to cite being fearful, feeling guilty, or having suicidal thoughts as a result of targeted sexualized or discriminatory behaviour, though a higher proportion of women reported each of these emotional impacts when compared to men. Three-quarters (75%) of men who personally experienced sexualized behaviour or discriminatory comments stated that the experience had no negative emotional consequences for them, compared to one-third (32%) of women.

Chart 9 Emotional consequences of targeted sexual or discriminatory behaviours against Regular Force members, past 12 months, by sex of victim, 2016

Data table for Chart 9
Data table for Chart 9
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 9. The information is grouped by Type of emotional impact (appearing as row headers), Women and Men, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Type of emotional impact Women MenNote 
percent
None 32Note * 75
Not much 38Note * 25
Other 18Note * 8
Suicidal thoughts 3Note * 1
Guilty 11Note * 3
Fearful 14Note * 4
Ashamed 16Note * 6
Depressed 16Note * 6
Lowered self-esteem 25Note * 9
Anxious 25Note * 6
Hurt/disappointment 39Note * 10
Shock/disbelief 39Note * 11
Loss of trust 41Note * 12
Upset 41Note * 12
More cautious/aware 45Note * 13
Angry 56Note * 15
Frustrated 56Note * 16
Annoyed 67Note * 25

Not all types of behaviours had the same impacts on those who experienced them (Table 9). The behaviours that generally had a greater negative emotional impact on the individuals were also those behaviours that were more often considered to be offensive. Notably, sexualized behaviours were less likely to result in negative emotional consequences than discriminatory behaviour. This finding held both for men and for women.

Military base or wing most common location for sexual or discriminatory behaviour

The vast majority (98%) of those who personally experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour stated that at least one instance occurred within the military workplace (Chart 10). This proportion was similar regardless of the command organization (that is, Army, Navy, Air Force, Military Personnel Command, or other). As was the case among those who were sexually assaulted, a base or wing was the most common location for incidents, identified by 85% of those who were personally targeted by at least one type of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour. This proportion was well above the next most common military locations, at the mess (35%) or during field exercises (31%).

Chart 10 Location of targeted sexual or discriminatory behaviours, past 12 months, 2016

Data table for Chart 10
Data table for Chart 10
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 10. The information is grouped by Location (appearing as row headers), Percent (appearing as column headers).
Location Percent
Married quarters 9
Street or other public place 18
Other location outside the military workplace 19
Commercial/institutional establishment 21
Private residence 30
Total - outside the military workplace 45
At a military college 2
During an outside Canada posting 2
On an aircraft 5
On a ship at sea or in port 12
Other military workplace 12
Office located off base 12
While deployed 13
During a sanctioned event 14
While on other training 17
While on temporary duty/attached posting 18
Barracks or single quarters 20
While on a course in a military school 23
During field exercises 31
At the mess 35
On a military base or wing 85
Total - in the military workplace 98

Furthermore, 45% stated that at least one incident involved other military members but occurred outside of the military workplace. Three in ten (30%) experienced targeted sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in a private residence, while one in five experienced these behaviours at a commercial or institutional establishment, such as a bar or restaurant (21%).

Most targeted sexual and discriminatory behaviours involve multiple persons

While characteristics of the person(s) responsible differed depending on the specific type of behaviour, there were some general similarities reported by Regular Force members (Table 10a; Table 10b). For example, the majority of persons responsible for each behaviour were CAF members, with smaller proportions stating that DND civilians or contractors or foreign military members were the perpetrators.

Those who were targeted by inappropriate sexualized or discriminatory behaviours generally stated that more than one person was responsible, including multiple people responsible for a single incident or different people responsible for multiple incidents. The exceptions to this were repeated pressure for dates or sexual relationships (66%) or unwelcome physical contact (57%), which tended to involve one person as the perpetrator.Note 34 These types of behaviours were more similar to sexual assault in that the majority of victims reported that a lone person was the perpetrator. Seven in ten (70%) Regular Force members who experienced repeated pressure for dates or sexual relationships within the past 12 months indicated that a male was the person responsible. When it came to sexual jokes and inappropriate discussion about sex life, which were more likely to be perpetrated by more than one person, the majority of Regular Force members stated that both men and women were responsible (69% and 53%, respectively).Note 35

The nature of certain types of behaviours measured by the SSMCAF influences the persons who were identified as responsible. For example, persons in authority are more likely to be in a position to offer workplace benefits to employees in exchange for sexual activity, while peers or coworkers are more likely to be responsible for behaviours related to the general workplace atmosphere. A supervisor or someone of a higher rank was identified as the person responsible by 73% of Regular Force members who were offered workplace benefits for engaging in sexual activity or mistreated for not engaging in sexual activity. Several other types of behaviour, such as sexual jokes (83%), displaying, showing, or sending sexually explicit messages or materials (75%), inappropriate discussion about sex life (74%), and indecent exposure or inappropriate display of body parts (72%) most commonly involved a peer.

In some cases, the person responsible was unknown. More than one-third of Regular Force members who had inappropriate photos or videos of themselves taken or posted without consent did not know who (36%) or how many people (37%) were responsible. This speaks to the difficulty of identifying persons responsible for some types of inappropriate sexual behaviour, in particular those that can be circulated anonymously, not only for those who are targeted but also for those in authority who are responsible for investigating any reported instances.

One in four Regular Force members reported behaviours to someone in authority

Generally, few of those targeted by sexual or discriminatory behaviours reported this behaviour to anyone in authority, regardless of the category of behaviour. About one in four (26%) Regular Force members who personally experienced at least one type of behaviour stated that any of the instances came to the attention of someone in authority. More precisely, when looking at specific groups of sexualized or discriminatory behaviours, close to one in five stated that at least one instance came to the attention of someone in authority (Chart 11). The exception was those involving sexually explicit materials, as 16% of Regular Force members who experienced these behaviours stated that they came to the attention of someone in authority. For these behaviours, as mentioned, a higher proportion of those who personally experienced them did not know specific information about the person(s) responsible, which may help explain the lower likelihood of reporting.

Chart 11 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Regular Force members whose experiences of targeted sexual or discriminatory behaviours came to the attention of someone in authority, by category of behaviours, 2016

Data table for Chart 11
Data table for chart 11
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 11. The information is grouped by Type of behaviour (appearing as row headers), Came to the attention of someone in authority, Did not come to the attention of someone in authority and Don't know if anyone in authority found out, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Type of behaviour Came to the attention of someone in authority Did not come to the attention of someone in authority Don't know if anyone in authority found out
percent
Inappropriate communication 21 45 34
Sexually explicit materials 16 47 37
Physical contact or suggested sexual relations 19 57 23
Discrimination based on sex 21 48 31
Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity 20 51 29

In many cases, those who were targeted did not report the behaviour themselves and were unsure if anyone in authority was made aware of the behaviour, ranging from 23% of those who experienced unwanted physical contact or suggested sexual relations to 37% of those who were the target of behaviour involving sexually explicit materials.

Belief that behaviour was not serious enough most common reason for not reporting

Overall, the most common reason for not contacting anyone in authority was that the behaviour was not considered serious enough, cited by just over half (54%) of those who personally experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour (Table 11). The belief that the behaviour was not serious enough was the most common reason cited for four of the five groups of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour. The lone exception was discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Among members who were targets of this behaviour, the most common reason for not reporting to an authority was that they did not believe reporting would make a difference, cited by nearly half (48%). The next most common reason for not reporting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity was fear of negative consequences (33%).

A small proportion of Regular Force members who experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour did not report it to anyone in authority because they were unsure how (4%), they changed jobs (3%), the person responsible changed jobs (3%), someone in authority found out another way (3%), or because someone told them not to report (2%).

For both women (52%) and men (51%), the most common reason for not reporting sexualized or discriminatory behaviour to anyone in authority was that they did not believe it was serious enough (Chart 12). Women were considerably more likely than men to state that they did not report the behaviour(s) because they did not believe it would make a difference (42% versus 17%) or because they resolved the problem on their own (51% versus 30%). As was the case for sexual assault, women were also more likely than men to cite fear of negative consequences (25% versus 10%) or concerns with the formal complaint process (12% versus 5%) as reasons for not reporting sexualized or discriminatory behaviour to someone in authority.

Chart 12 Reasons for not reporting targeted sexual or discriminatory behaviours to someone in authority, by sex, past 12 months, 2016

Data table for Chart 12
Data table for chart 12
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 12. The information is grouped by Reason (appearing as row headers), Women and Men, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Reason Women MenData table Note 
percent
Other 28Note * 46
Someone told me not to report 2Note * 1
Someone in authority found out another way 4Note * 3
Unsure how 5Note * 2
Person(s) responsible changed jobs 6Note * 2
Changed jobs 6Note * 2
Concerns about formal complaint process 12Note * 5
Afraid of negative consequences 25Note * 10
Behaviour stopped 29Note * 16
Did not believe it would make a difference 42Note * 17
Resolved on my own 51Note * 30
Not serious enough 52 51

Few Regular Force members contacted military police

While a minority of those who were targeted by sexualized or discriminatory behaviour contacted an authority figure, an even smaller proportion (2%) of Regular Force members contacted the Military Police or the Canadian Forces National Investigation Services (CFNIS) as a result of their experience. Those who contacted one or both of these agencies indicated that the most common action taken by Military Police or CFNIS was to make a report or conduct an investigation, cited by 62% of those who reported (Chart 13). The response was not uniform across different types of behaviour; for example, 81% of those who reported unwanted physical contact or sexual relations to the Military Police or CFNIS stated that a report or investigation occurred compared to 48% of those who experienced inappropriate communication. In many cases, Regular Force members who reported their experience to the Military Police or CFNIS did not know what, if any, action was taken (35%) or stated that no action was taken (34%).

Chart 13 Action taken by those in authority who found out about targeted sexualized or discriminatory behaviours against Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Regular Force members in the past 12 months, by type of authority, 2016

Data table for Chart 13
Data table for chart 13
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 13. The information is grouped by Type of authority and action taken (appearing as row headers), Percent (appearing as column headers).
Type of authority and action taken Percent
Action taken by someone other than Military Police/CFNIS or civilian policeData table Note 1  
No action taken 51
Don't know what action was taken 28
Took other action 21
Referred to the SMRCData table Note 3 2
Referred to the Military Police/CFNIS 3
Posted the person responsible out of unit 4
Posted the person targeted out of unit 4
Recommended Alternate Dispute Resolution 4
Referred to medical or mental health services 5
Removed person targeted from section 5
Removed person responsible from section 5
Recommended a grievance/formal complaint 5
Recommended speaking to a WRA/HAData table Note 3 6
Start investigation through chain of command 11
Disciplinary action against person responsible 12
Talked to person responsible 44
Action taken by Military Police/CFNISData table Note 2  
No action taken 34
Don't know what action was taken 35
Took other action 24
Made a report/conduct investigation 62

Contacting someone in authority other than the Military Police or CFNIS, such as a supervisor or someone of higher rank within the chain of command, was more common, but was still reported by a minority of those who experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour (26%). Of Regular Force members who reported their experiences to someone in authority other than the Military Police, CFNIS, or civilian police, four in ten (44%) stated that the person in authority spoke to the person(s) responsible about their behaviour. One in ten (12%) Regular Force members who reported their experience further stated that disciplinary actions were taken against the person(s) responsible. This proportion was higher for sexualized behaviour than it was for discriminatory behaviour (12% versus 5%). That said, half (51%) of Regular Force members stated that, in at least one instance, no action was taken as a result of their report.

Regular Force members less satisfied with action taken by Military Police

Smaller proportions of those who reported any behaviour to the Military Police or CFNIS were satisfied with the action taken as a result compared to those who reported to someone else in authority. More precisely, 48% of those who reported any behaviour to the Military Police or CFNIS were somewhat or very satisfied with the response, compared to 56% of those who reported to another authority. Behaviours which were brought to the attention of the Military Police or CFNIS were also likely perceived as more serious by those who were targeted, which may be related to greater expectations of those responsible for investigating or responding.

Few Regular Force members consulted services due to their experiences

In addition to generally not contacting an authority figure, very few Regular Force members who experienced targeted sexualized or discriminatory behaviours used any CAF or civilian services, with 98% of men and 96% of women stating that they did not use any service following their experiences (Table 12). Spiritual services were among the most common services used, with 6% of those who personally experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviours consulting a CAF chaplain in at least one instance and 2% consulting a civilian spiritual advisor. Regular Force members who used medical services as a result of any of the behaviours they experienced consulted CAF services more frequently than civilian services (4% compared with 0.5%).

Two-thirds of women in the CAF experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviours in their career

Almost half (49%) of Regular Force members stated that they had been the target of at least one type of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour during their military career.Note 36 As was the case when examining experiences in the past 12 months, sexual jokes, inappropriate discussion about sex life, and unwanted sexual attention were the most common forms of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour, experienced by 35%, 20%, and 13% of Regular Force members, respectively, at some point since joining the CAF.Note 37

Nearly seven in ten (69%) women in the Regular Force have been the target of at least one sexualized or discriminatory behaviour at some point in their military career, compared to close to half (45%) of men. For both men and women, sexual jokes were the most common behaviour experienced, with 49% of women and 32% of men stating they were the target of sexual jokes at least once.

Women were more likely than men to have personally experienced each of the behaviours measured by the SSMCAF at some point during their military career. Notably, the proportion of women who heard comments about not being good at a job or about being prevented from doing a job due to their sex was nine times higher than the proportion of men (26% compared to 3%), and the proportion who experienced repeated pressure for dates or sexual relationships was approximately eight times higher (18% of women compared to 2% of men). More than one-third (36%) of women in the Regular Force have experienced unwanted sexual attention at some point since joining the CAF, well above the proportion of men reporting similar behaviour (7%).

One in five members of the Primary Reserves personally experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the past 12 months

Sexualized behaviour was witnessed (i.e., seen or heard) or experienced by about four in five (82%) Reservists. As with those in the Regular Force, the most common behaviours witnessed or experienced were sexual jokes (78%), inappropriate sexual comments (38%), and inappropriate discussion about sex life (36%). One-third (35%) of Reservists witnessed or experienced discriminatory behaviour, a proportion which was also similar to that observed among Regular Force members. Although, for the most part, the proportion of Reservists who witnessed or experienced these behaviours was similar to those in the Regular Force, it should be noted that, due to the nature of their service, many Reservists spend less time in a military workplace or with other military members than do those in the Regular Force.

One in five (20%) Reservists, or about 5,080 individuals, personally experienced at least one form of sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the past 12 months, three percentage points higher than the proportion of Regular Force members who were targeted by at least one behaviour (17%) (Table 13). Sexual jokes were the most common type of targeted behaviour, cited by 15% of Primary Reservists.

Section 3: Knowledge and perceptions of policies and responses to sexual misconduct

There are several policies and programs dedicated or related to addressing issues of sexual misconduct in the workplace that exist within the CAF. The SSMCAF asked about awareness of nine key directives, policies, or programs. The vast majority of Regular Force members were very or somewhat aware of all nine (Chart 14). Nearly all (98%) Regular Force members were somewhat or very aware of Operation Honour, the directive with the highest level of awareness. In contrast, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, which, like Operation Honour, was implemented as part of the response to the Deschamps report, had lower levels of awareness, with 41% being very aware and 45% being somewhat aware.

Chart 14 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Regular Force members' awareness of Canadian Armed Forces directives, policies and programs related to sexual misconduct, 2016

Data table for Chart 14
Data table for chart 14
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for chart 14. The information is grouped by Directive, policy, or program (appearing as row headers), Very aware , Somewhat aware and Not aware , calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Directive, policy, or program Very aware Somewhat aware Not aware
percent
Canadian Forces Employment Equity Regulations 41 45 14
Sexual Misconduct Response Centre 41 45 14
DAOD 5019-5 Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Disorders 49 41 10
Leadership in the Canadian Forces: Doctrine Manual 53 37 10
DAOD 5012-0 Harassment Prevention and Resolution 55 38 7
Alternate Dispute Resolution Process 57 35 8
Duty with Honour: The Profession of Arms in Canada Manual (Military Ethos) 68 27 5
Defence Ethics Program 75 22 3
Operation HONOUR 86 11 2

Vast majority of Regular Force members believe sexual misconduct is not tolerated in their unit

Though many Regular Force members believe that in a broad sense, inappropriate sexual behaviour is a problem in the CAF, most do not believe it is a problem in their current unit (Table 14). In particular, about eight in ten members strongly agreed that complaints about inappropriate sexual behaviour are or would be taken seriously (81%) and that inappropriate sexual behaviour was not tolerated in their current unit (78%). In both cases, a small proportion (2% and 3%, respectively) of Regular Force members somewhat or strongly disagreed with these statements.

Regular Force members who were victims of sexual assault typically had the most negative perceptions of the CAF’s response to sexual misconduct in the workplace. For example, 22% of women and men who had been sexually assaulted in the past 12 months did not believe the CAF is currently working hard to prevent inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace. This compares to 2% of Regular Force members who had never been sexually assaulted or experienced targeted sexual or discriminatory behaviour. That said, the majority still had positive perceptions of the state of their current unit: of those who had been sexually assaulted in the past 12 months, 69% of women and 64% of men believed that inappropriate sexual behaviour is not tolerated in their current unit, while 71% of women and 68% of men believed that complaints are or would be taken seriously.Note 38

More than one-third believe inappropriate sexual behaviour is a problem in the CAF

Despite the generally positive perceptions of the CAF’s response to inappropriate sexual behaviour, and their current unit’s response or possible response in particular, more than one-third (38%) of regular force members agree that inappropriate sexual behaviour is a problem within the CAF. About one-third (36%) of men agreed that inappropriate sexual behaviour was a problem in CAF, the same as the proportion of men who disagreed with this statement (36%). Among women, however, there was a considerable difference: 51% of women serving in the regular force believed that inappropriate sexual behaviour is a problem in the CAF, compared with 21% of women who did not believe that inappropriate sexual behaviour is a problem. Regardless of the length of service in the CAF, these perceptions were similar among Regular Force members.

Regular Force members who experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour or who were victims of sexual assault were more likely to believe that inappropriate sexual behaviour is a problem in the Canadian Armed Forces. More than three-quarters of women (79%) and half of men (51%) who were sexually assaulted in the past 12 months believed that inappropriate sexual behaviour is a problem in the CAF.

Among members of the Primary Reserve, four in ten (42%) agreed that inappropriate sexual behaviour is a problem in the CAF. This proportion was nearly twenty percentage points higher among female Reservists than male Reservists (57% versus 38%). As was the case among Regular Force members, however, Reservists tended to strongly agree that, in their current unit, inappropriate sexual behaviour is not tolerated (76%) and that complaints are or would be taken seriously (80%).

Perceived effectiveness of Operation Honour varies

As part of the action plan developed in response to the Deschamps report, Operation Honour was implemented in August 2015. Operation Honour is a CAF-wide program designed to end inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace and provide support to CAF members who have been affected. The operation includes consulting with key stakeholders to develop policies, education, and training related to these goals (Canadian Armed Forces 2016). Overall, one third (32%) of Regular Force members believed that Operation Honour will be very or extremely effective. Furthermore, 37% believed that Operation Honour will be moderately effective. The remaining 30% believed that Operation Honour will not be effective at all or will only be slightly effective.Note 39

Junior officers and junior non-commissioned members, who were more likely to see, hear, or be targeted by sexualized and discriminatory behaviours, were less optimistic about the future effectiveness of Operation Honour. The proportion of Regular Force members who believed Operation Honour will be very or extremely effective was lowest among junior officers (27%), followed by junior non-commissioned members (30%), senior officers (35%), and senior non-commissioned members (39%).

Regardless of command organization, Regular Force members were similar in their perceptions that Operation Honour will be very or extremely effective, with the proportion ranging from 30% in the Navy and the Air Force to 35% in the Military Personnel Command and other command organizations. In contrast, being a victim of sexual assault in the past 12 months had a significant impact on perceptions. Notably, six in ten (59%) Regular Force members who were sexually assaulted in the past 12 months believed that Operation Honour will not be effective at all or will only be slightly effective. This was double the proportion of those who were not victims of sexual assault (30%).

Section 4: Summary, methodology and data sources

Summary

The Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces asked active Regular Force and Primary Reserve members of the Canadian Armed Forces about their experiences of sexual assault, general sexualized behaviour, and discriminatory behaviour in the military workplace or involving other military members or Department of National Defence employees or contractors, both in the past 12 months and since they joined the Canadian Armed Forces.

Approximately 1,000 Regular Force members of the Canadian Armed Forces reported having been sexually assaulted (i.e., victims of sexual attack, sexual activity to which they were unable to consent, or unwanted sexual touching) in the past 12 months, accounting for 1.7% of the total Regular Force population. Unwanted sexual touching, reported by 1.5% of Regular Force members, was the most common type of sexual assault, while sexual attacks (0.3%) and sexual activity where the victim was unable to consent (0.2%) were relatively less common.

Women serving in the Regular Force were more likely than men to have been sexually assaulted (4.8% and 1.2%, respectively). Since first joining the Canadian Armed Forces, 27.3% of women and 3.8% of men have been sexually assaulted in the military workplace or by another military member.

Sexualized behaviours were relatively common among Regular Force members, with four in five (80%) seeing, hearing, or experiencing at least one sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the past 12 months. Sexual jokes were by far the most common type of sexualized behaviour, reported by more than three-quarters of Regular Force members (76%).

Personally experiencing or being targeted by sexualized or discriminatory behaviour was reported by approximately one in five (17%) Regular Force members. Proportionally, women were about twice as likely as men to be targeted by sexualized or discriminatory behaviours in the past 12 months (31% versus 15%). Notably, female Regular Force members under the age of 24 were most likely to have personally experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour (54%).

Among those serving in the Primary Reserves, 2.6% were victims of sexual assault in the past 12 months. Additionally, one in five (20%) Primary Reservists were targeted by at least one sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the past 12 months. As was the case among Regular Force members, women in the Primary Reserves were more likely than men to report being the victim of sexual assault or personally experiencing sexualized or discriminatory behaviour.

When considering their current unit, most Regular Force members strongly agreed that complaints about inappropriate sexual behaviour are or would be taken seriously (81%) and that sexual misconduct is not tolerated (78%). However, when considering the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole, 36% of men and 51% of women believed that inappropriate sexual behaviour is a problem. Those who had been victims of sexual assault or personally experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour were more likely to believe that inappropriate sexualized behaviour is a problem in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Overall, the results from the Survey of Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces are consistent with previous research done in the military context both in Canada and internationally. Women in the Regular Force are more likely than their male counterparts to be victims of sexual assault and to personally experience sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the military workplace or involving other military members, particularly when other factors associated with higher prevalence, such as age, sexual orientation, or gender identity are taken into account. Furthermore, women are more likely to witness or observe general sexualized or discriminatory behaviour or comments which they perceive to be offensive.

Methodology and data sources

This report is based on data from the 2016 Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. The target population was all active members of the Regular Force and Primary Reserves. The SSMCAF was administered only to current CAF members. Therefore, those who may have been on administrative, medical, or parental leave or those who may have chosen to leave the CAF as a result of their victimization or for any other reason were not included in the survey. The questionnaire was sent electronically to all members of the target population; therefore, no sampling was done. Data collection took place between April and June, 2016. Responses were obtained using an electronic questionnaire.

The target population was 81,700 individuals in the Regular Force and the Primary Reserves. Of these, 43,442 submitted a completed questionnaire. Regular Force members, who were the focus of this analytical report, had a higher response rate (61%) than those in the Primary Reserves (36%). Response rates were higher among women than men both for Regular Force members (70% versus 60%) and Primary Reservists (46% versus 33%).

Respondents who submitted a completed questionnaire were weighted so that their responses represent the entire active Regular Force and Primary Reserve components of the Canadian Armed Forces. After weighting, the submitted responses represented approximately 56,200 Regular Force members and roughly 26,000 Primary Reservists.

For more information, please consult the following documents: 2016 SSMCAF

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