Military Sexual Trauma

Military Sexual Trauma (or MST) affects both men and women, and includes any sexual activity a person is involved in against his or her will. MST encompasses sexual activity where coercion is used (the threat of negative consequences, or a promise of faster promotions or better treatment), or where someone was unable to give consent, or was physically forced into sexual contact. While it is difficult to know just how many veterans have experienced MST because it is so under-reported, estimates are around one in four for female vets, and one in 100 for male vets.

The consequences of MST can vary greatly.

  • MST can result in PTSD and other mental health conditions, including eating disorders.
  • Survivors of MST can also be at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and/or unwanted pregnancies (for women).
  • Survivors may also struggle with other physical ailments related to PTSD, such as gastrointestinal complaints, fibromyalgia, and sexual dysfunction.

Sexual Trauma in the Military

Because Military Sexual Trauma often goes unreported, it can be difficult for a veteran to show that the stressor occurred, and therefore get service connection for their PTSD or other ailments. However, there is a wide range of evidence that can be used to support your claim.

  • Buddy statements from those you served with, or friends or family members you told about the assault.
  • Reports made to rape crisis centers or hotlines, even if they were civilian centers.
  • Diaries or journals where you talked about the assault.
  • Treatment for a sexually transmitted disease around the time of the assault.
  • Decrease in performance reviews.