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MST

MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA

Military Sexual Trauma

Military sexual trauma (MST) is the term that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) use to refer to sexual assault or ongoing sexual harassment that occurred while a veteran was in active military service. MST includes any sexual activity an individual was involved in against their will or when they could not say no. People of all ages, genders, racial/ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and branches of military service have experienced MST. Like other forms of trauma, MST can negatively affect an individual’s physical and psychological health, even many years after the incident.


What is Military Sexual Trauma (MST)?

Military sexual trauma (MST) is the term that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) use to refer to sexual assault or ongoing sexual harassment that occurred while a veteran was in active military service. MST includes any sexual activity an individual was involved in against their will or when they could not say no. People of all ages, genders, racial/ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and branches of military service have experienced MST. Like other forms of trauma, MST can negatively affect an individual’s physical and psychological health, even many years after the incident.

How Common is MST & Who Is at Greatest Risk?

Most estimates show military sexual trauma to be much more common among female veterans than their male counterparts. One source estimates that 1 in 4 female veterans in the VA healthcare system has experienced MST1. At the same time, just 1 in 100 male veterans have experienced MST. Other sources report 1 in 3 women and 1 in 50 men as victims of military sexual trauma2. Racial minorities, sexual minorities, and unmarried people are at higher risk of MST3. Younger service members (age 17-24) are also more likely than those who are older to experience military sexual trauma.

Examples of Military Sexual Trauma

Military sexual trauma includes a variety of threatening, demeaning, or aggressive actions on a spectrum that ranges from ongoing sexual harassment to sexual assault. This sexual trauma may occur while an individual is on or off duty. It may happen while they are either on or off base. The perpetrator may be of a higher military rank than the victim, lower position, or the same rank. Neither the location of the assault/harassment nor the identity or characteristics of the perpetrator matter.


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