Find Out More About Military Sexual Trauma

Military Sexual Trauma (MST) refers to sexual assault or sexual harassment that occurs during military service.

After experiencing MST, women may have strong emotions, difficulty with trust and self-esteem, or other problems at work and at home.  Recovery from experiences of MST is possible. This page lists different resources that can help you learn more about MST and support you in the process of healing.

Self-Assessment

Get started with this self-assessment, available on the AfterDeployment website.   Based on your responses, you will receive feedback on your current stress level, as well as personalized recommendations and resources that may be helpful to you.

About Military Sexual Trauma
This short whiteboard video uses hand-drawn animation to help you learn more about MST.

MakeTheConnection – MST videos
The MakeTheConnection website features a series of videos in which Veterans who experienced MST share their stories.  Hear how they got on the road to recovery.

Online Resources

To better understand how MST can impact women Veterans, check out this infographic  developed by the VA (also available in Spanish)

Did you know that VA provides free health care for physical and mental health conditions related to MST? There are no time limits on eligibility, and Veterans do not need to have reported the MST or have documentation that it happened.  An overview of all VA services can be found in the fact sheet Quick Facts About VA’s Health Care Services for Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

Veterans who have experienced MST can file a claim to receive compensation for MST-related injuries or disabilities.  This Guide from the VA provides more information.

DoD Safe Helpline is a crisis support service for members of the DoD community affected by sexual assault.  You can start a live chat, view resources, or call 877-995-5247 for 24/7 support.

For more information on finding treatment for MST and or mental health conditions, check out our section on Finding Help for Mental Health Needs.

 

Key Research Studies

How Common is Military Sexual Trauma in Veterans

A recent survey study conducted by VA researchers examined MST in more than 20,000 Veterans who deployed to OEF/OIF or served elsewhere during the same time period.  The survey asked Veterans if they had ever experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault during their service.

Study Findings:
View an infographic describing the study results

  • 42% of women Veterans and 4% of men Veterans had experienced MST
  • Deployed and non-deployed women Veterans were equally likely to experience MST
  • Among both men and women, Veterans who had been exposed to combat had an even higher risk of MST

We Conclude:

MST affects a large proportion of Veterans, especially women Veterans.  Efforts to stop MST and to support those who have experienced MST are needed.

Citation:

Barth, S. K., Kimerling, R. E., Pavao, J., McCutcheon, S. J., Batten, S. V., Dursa, E., … Schneiderman, A. I. (2016). Military sexual trauma among recent Veterans: Correlates of sexual assault and sexual harassment. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 50, 77–86. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2015.06.012

 

Unit Support Protects Against Sexual Harassment and Assault

This study looked at how unit support influenced sexual harassment and sexual assault during deployment among 1,674 (10% women) National Guard service members.

Study Findings:

  • Women were more likely than men to experience sexual harassment and/or sexual assault
  • 44% of women reported experiencing sexual harassment and 19% reported experiencing sexual assault during their most recent deployment
  • Greater unit support was associated with a lower likelihood of experiencing sexual harassment and/or assault among both men and women

We Conclude:

Unit support is important and may be a potential factor decreasing the odds of experiencing sexual harassment and/or assault.

Citation:

Walsh, K., Galea, S., Cerda, M., Richards, C., Liberzon, I., Tamurrino, M. B., … Koenen, K. C. (2014). Unit support protects against sexual harassment and assault among National Guard Soldiers. Womens Health Issues, 24, 600-604. doi:10.1016/j.whi.2014.05.006