How Sexual Trauma Affects Our Nation’s Military

What is Military Sexual Trauma?

Military sexual trauma (MST) is defined as any form of sexual abuse (whether physical or verbal) which takes places among men and women of the military. MST is illegal as it is an action performed without consent of the victim. This type of crime can occur among members of the opposite or same gender. At least two people (the victim and perpetrator) are involved in this form of trauma, although gang rape is also common. Those who experience sexual trauma suffer from a great deal of emotional distress. Often times, trauma treatment at one of the many trauma treatment centers is recommended for trauma recovery.

Many victims of sexual trauma are too afraid and guilt-ridden to mention their experience with anyone. Because of this, medical and psychological assistance is never offered and PTSD (a common complication) can occur and thrive in the victim. Trauma treatment centers address both the psychological and medical issues associated with sexual abuse and incorporate specialized programs and trauma therapy to aid in trauma recovery. Some people who experience military sexual trauma face a delayed response to this trauma. Such a response may not occur until months or even years after an instance.

Although military sexual trauma has a much higher occurrence among women, men are also susceptible to sexual trauma. When men are sexually abused, they are more commonly gang raped and thus will often suffer from greater amounts of physical harm than will women. Another unfortunate fact about men who experience sexual trauma in the military is that these men are much less likely to report military sexual assault than women.

MST is often much higher during times of combat than during times of training. It can span all forms of sexual contact and does not necessarily have to involve sexual intercourse. Approximately 30 to 40% of female veterans claim to have experienced some form of military sexual trauma. Sexual harassment rates are often much higher. If you or your loved one is a victim of sexual trauma or harassment, call a trauma treatment center today for assistance. These facilities can help you find trauma recovery.

Symptoms of Military Sexual Trauma

Military sexual trauma can be a difficult experience to endure, especially if no one is available to help you through recovery. Trauma treatment centers offer unique classes as well as therapy sessions when assisting victims of sexual abuse. Symptoms of MST include:

  • Depression
  • Negative change in mood and personality
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Guilty feelings
  • Feelings of embarrassment or humiliation
  • Health complications
  • Inability to experience healthy relationships
  • Nightmares
  • Suicide contemplation
  • Drug and alcohol addiction
  • Problems placing trust in others
  • Isolation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoiding places and things similar to memories of the trauma
  • Compulsive working

For those who also struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, drug treatment at a drug and alcohol rehab center is recommended to prevent serious addiction and health complications.

Treatment for Military Sexual Trauma

Offering services and trauma treatment for those who have experienced sexual trauma in the military is a relatively new idea. Although MST has been happening since the military first began, only recently has it been talked about. Male sexual trauma, especially males assaulting other males is still a very seldom talked about concern.

Restricted reporting is a newer program in the military that is used as a tool for those who have experienced sexual assault to seek help by way of a report brought in confidentially. No investigation takes place, only special medical care for the victim. Later on, the victim is able to begin an investigation if they wish.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one type of institution which provides assistance to victims of military sexual trauma. This department provides help to military men and women regardless of whether or not their crime was reported. The VA, through its specialized services, offers support, therapy, and medicine, depending on the severity of the trauma.

These programs, as well as the services provided by trauma treatment facilities offer great support to those suffering from MST. Trauma treatment centers help military sexual trauma victims by providing unique program opportunities (these differ according to the facility) and individual as well as group therapy sessions. The main goal of trauma treatment centers is to provide trauma recovery and enable victims to live a fulfilling life, free of fear.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.