Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is any sexual harassment, assault, or continued sexual threat that service members experience while in military service. Both men and women can be victims of MST, and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs offers free treatment for those who have suffered Military Sexual Trauma or assault.

Military Sexual Trauma Statistics

Both men and women are at high risk of Military Sexual Trauma. It is believed that reports of sexual assault or harassment of military service members is widely underreported. In 2007, the VA Health Care System found that reported rates of MST were 22% among female veterans, and 1.2% among male veterans.

These rates have increased in recent years. In April of 2014, the Service Women’s Action Network and Vietnam Veterans of America filed a petition with U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In their petition, they claimed:

Widespread rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment plague the military, threatening the strength of the armed forces, undermining national security, and destroying the lives of survivors and their families.

They also claimed that of the 26,000 reported cases of unwanted sexual contact, 52% of complainants were men. Similarly, they claimed that more than half of female service members are victims of unwanted sexual contact.

Results of Military Sexual Trauma

Military Sexual Trauma can result in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at higher rates than combat experience. Sexual violence has long been related to PTSD, and is among the largest causes within the civilian population.

MST is likely to cause deep psychological damage. Many victims choose to self-medicate with alcohol, prescription and nonprescription narcotics, or other harmful substances. Dependence and addiction are a very serious side-effect of MST.

As with PTSD, it is possible to develop severe depression as a result of Military Sexual Trauma. Self-isolation, fear, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts can follow. It is important to seek treatment for any of these symptoms.

Military Sexual Trauma Treatment

Sufferers of Military Sexual Trauma may benefit from individual therapy or group therapy. The most effective course of action is to work through the anxiety, fear, embarrassment, or anger. You are not alone. Thousands of active military members and veterans are victims of sexual harassment and assault every year. Find a community to share your experience with.

Any related disorders, including alcoholism, drug addiction, and more, must also be addressed. These self-medicating techniques, while appealing, do a great deal more harm than good. As any of our Warriors will tell you, they lead to darker places, and only serve to increase the risks of depression, isolation, and suicidal thoughts. Professional help is available to greatly assist with the recovery process.

Military Sexual Trauma is a serious concern, and should be brought to the attention of counselors or rehabilitation programs. At Warriors Heart, we understand the pain and fear sometimes associated with being a Warrior in healing. We want to provide a safe environment to help you recover from Military Sexual Trauma, PTSD, addiction, and alcoholism. Contact Warriors Heart today to begin healing.