From distrust to distress: Associations among military sexual assault, organizational trust, and occupational health.

Objective: Workplace violence is underreported, in part due to lack of trust in the system—an organization’s ability to protect victims’ safety, confidentiality, and dignity. We focus on military sexual assault—a form of workplace violence—aiming to (a) identify factors that relate to employee trust in the organization’s sexual assault response system and (b) determine how trust in this system (or lack thereof) is associated with well-being. Method: Participants were drawn from a representative sample of U.S. military personnel (542 victims of past-year sexual assault and a random sample of 1,000 individuals who did not experience sexual assault in the past year). Results: Trust differed by personal and organizational characteristics. Notably, trust was higher among men (vs. women), nonvictims (vs. past-year victims of sexual assault), members of the air force (vs. other service branches), and personnel who recalled comprehensive training related to sexual assault prevention and response (vs. minimal or no training). Further, lower trust in the system predicted lower work satisfaction and coworker satisfaction, more negative health perceptions, more greater symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress, and lower intent to remain on active duty. These negative outcomes emerged beyond the effects of past-year sexual assault and combat. Conclusions: Trust that an organization will protect employees’ safety, confidentiality, and dignity if they report violence is important to both mental and occupational health, for both victims and nonvictims alike. In short, workplace violence can be devastating and so can (non)responsiveness to violence by the larger institution. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)