Why Military Sexual Trauma May Cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & Military Sexual Trauma

Military sexual trauma (MST) takes place when sexual abuse, whether it is verbal or physical, occurs among men and women of the military. Out of all the women who claim to have experienced this sexual trauma in the military, 40 to 60% developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, out of every other type of trauma that can occur in the military, sexual trauma is the number one cause of PTSD. Also, rape is probably the most common form of sexual assault which causes PTSD. For victims of sexual abuse, trauma therapy and post traumatic stress disorder treatment at a trauma treatment center is often very beneficial.

Those who have endured sexual trauma in the military are more prone to developing post traumatic stress disorder than those who have experienced sexual trauma outside of the military. A lack of medical and emotional assistance or high stress levels may be a reason victims of MST are more prone to PTSD. Another reason why those who have experienced military sexual trauma often develop PTSD is because a fellow colleague or person respected by the victim is often the perpetrator. This sexual abuse would make further working difficult, especially if the victim must obey and continue to respect the perpetrator.

If the victim is sexual assaulted or harassed in the place they call home or work, fear is much more likely to take place because a once “safe-haven” is now a place of anxiety and bad memories. This type of crime may also hinder the person from achieving further goals and accomplishments out of helplessness. It may also be more difficult for a person to leave this type of a situation in the military, which puts a person at further risk for victimization. Other members of the military service often consider reporting such a negative crime about another soldier wrong and either will not believe the victim or will ignore them. For military members who have chosen to report sexual assault and were not believed or were blamed for the experience, PTSD is more common. Post traumatic stress disorder treatment centers are available to anyone looking to find military sexual trauma recovery. These centers offer a wide variety of specialized programs as well as therapy sessions. Often times, these PTSD treatment facilities are helpful in reducing the severe complications which may be associated with MST.

Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Symptoms associated with PTSD include:

  • Nightmares
  • Little interest in participating in enjoyable activities
  • Negative physical reactions in response to stressful situations
  • Hypervigilance
  • Anger
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Avoidance of places and things that may remind the person of the trauma
  • Low sleep quality
  • Anxiousness
  • Hallucinations

The following symptoms which arise in someone with PTSD can be difficult to deal with. In addition to this, if symptoms are allowed to continue without proper trauma therapy or post traumatic stress disorder treatment, complications may worsen.

Symptoms of Military Sexual Trauma

Reactions in response to MST differ according to each individual’s unique experience. Also, the way the victim is treated when the subject is brought up greatly affects the severity and duration of MST symptoms. Symptoms which may arise as a result of MST include:

  • Depression
  • Health complications
  • Anxiety
  • Poor relationships
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Humiliation
  • Psychological damage and strain
  • Problems at work
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Guilt
  • Nightmares

Another problem associated with this form of trauma is difficulty placing trust in others. This is especially true among those who were assaulted by someone they knew well or respected. Women and men who experience MST along with other forms of military trauma tend to experience more psychological damage and are more prone to PTSD.

For men who have experienced sexual trauma, Post traumatic stress may be more severe as males are known to be dominant rather than submissive. Also, because male sexual assault is much rarer and less commonly discussed, keeping military sexual trauma a secret is much more common as these men experience a certain type of embarrassment and shame from the situation.

PTSD treatment facilities and trauma treatment centers may be helpful if you or a loved one has experienced military sexual trauma. Trauma therapy and PTSD programs available at these rehab centers reduce symptoms of PTSD and MST as well as provide skills for an individual to succeed in life outside of a trauma treatment center.


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.