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Military Sexual Trauma

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Military Sexual Trauma

VA uses the term "military sexual trauma" (MST) to refer to sexual assault or harassment experienced during military service. MST includes any sexual activity that you are involved with against your will. Examples include:

  • Being pressured or coerced into sexual activities, such as with threats of negative treatment if you refuse to cooperate or with promises of better treatment in exchange for sex
  • Someone having sexual contact with you without your consent, such as when you were asleep or intoxicated
  • Being physically forced to have sex
  • Being touched in a sexual way that made you uncomfortable
  • Repeated comments about your body or sexual activities
  • Threatening and unwanted sexual advances

Military Sexual Trauma Fact Sheet

Military Sexual Trauma Fact Sheet

Background information about MST, including what it is, how it can affect Veterans, and help available through VA.

MST Brochure for Veterans

MST Brochure for Veterans

An overview of issues related to MST and how to access VA services.

Men and MST — Educational Brochure

Men and MST — Educational Brochure

Information on men's recovery from MST

Men and MST — Infographic

Women and MST — Infographic

Information on women's recovery from MST.

Women and MST — Infographic

Women and MST — Infographic

Information on women's recovery from MST.

Help for Veterans Affected by Recent Public Discussions About Sexual Abuse

Help for Veterans Affected by Recent Public Discussions About Sexual Abuse

Information, coping suggestions, and resources for connecting with care, for Veterans who may be feeling distressed by recent public discussions about sexual assault and harassment.

Top 10 Facts About VA Services for MST

Top 10 Facts About VA Services for MST

Quick reference information for non-VA service providers about VA's MST-related offerings.

VA's Health Care Services for MST

VA's Health Care Services for MST

Summary of eligibility requirements and types of MST-related services available through VA.

A Disability Compensation for Conditions Related to MST — Fact Sheet

A Disability Compensation for Conditions Related to MST - Fact Sheet

Details on VA's disability compensation for conditions related to MST. (Veterans do not need to have a VA disability rating to receive free MST-related treatment through VA.)

MISSION Act 133: A Core Training on Military Sexual Trauma (MST) for Community Medical Professionals – This course is designed to provide community medical professionals with brief training on key information related to the care of Veterans who experienced MST.

MISSION Act 133: Core Training for Military Sexual Trauma (MST) for Community Mental Health Providers – This course is designed to provide community mental health providers with training on key information related to the care of Veterans who experienced MST.

Caring for Our Veterans Who Experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST) for Community Mental Health Providers - The live web-based series purpose is to further educate non-Veteran Affair’s providers about Veteran Affair’s policies, practices, expertise, standards and resources for treating Veterans.

Working with Veterans Who Have Experienced Military Sexual Trauma - This training will help learners understand the impact military sexual trauma (MST) can have on Veterans’ health. It will describe the services VA has available to assist Veterans who experienced MST and discuss how to monitor personal reactions, both over the course of treatment and within specific patient-provider interactions.

Working with Trauma Survivors: What Workers Need to Know

Military Sexual Trauma: Issues in Caring for Veterans

Video: The effects of MST on survivors and the services VA has available to assist in recovery.

Building Hope and Resiliency Online Course: This self-guided program helps active duty Service members begin to recover, heal, and enhance their resiliency after experiencing sexual assault in the military. This resource is also useful for providers working with survivors.

Mental health consequences of military sexual trauma: results from a national survey in the French military. Moreau C, Duron S, Bedretdinova D, Bohet A, Panjo H, Bajos N, Meynard JB. BMC Public Health. 2022 Feb 2;22(1):214. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-12545-x.

Gender differences in Veterans' use of the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL): Findings from VCL call data. Dichter ME, Krishnamurti LS, Chhatre S, Hoffmire CA, Monteith LL, Bellamy SL, Iverson KM, Montgomery AE, Agha A, McCoy I. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2021 Dec 15;74:65-70. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2021.12.006. Epub ahead of print.

Thank You for Hearing My Voice - Listening to Women Combat Veterans in the United States and Israeli Militaries. Daphna-Tekoah S, Harel-Shalev A, Harpaz-Rotem I. Front Psychol. 2021 Dec 6;12:769123. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.769123.

Assessing Institutional Betrayal among Female Veterans Who Experienced Military Sexual Trauma: A Rasch Analysis of the Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire.2. Monteith LL, Schneider AL, Holliday R, Bahraini NH. J Interpers Violence. 2021 Dec;36(23-24):10861-10883. doi: 10.1177/0886260520983959. Epub 2021 Jan 6.

The Impact of Sexual Trauma on the Sexual Health of Women Veterans: A Comprehensive Review. Pulverman CS, Creech SK. Trauma Violence Abuse. 2021 Oct;22(4):656-671. doi: 10.1177/1524838019870912. Epub 2019 Aug 22.

"We Really Need This": Trauma-Informed Yoga for Veteran Women with a history of Military Sexual Trauma. Braun TD, Uebelacker LA, Ward M, Holzhauer CG, McCallister K, Abrantes A. Complement Ther Med. 2021 May 6:102729. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102729

Military sexual trauma and suicidal ideation in VHA-care-seeking OEF/OIF/OND Veterans without mental health diagnosis or treatment. Decker SE, Ramsey CM, Ronzitti S, Kerns RD, Driscoll MA, Dziura J, Skanderson M, Bathulapalli H, Brandt CA, Haskell SG, Goulet JL. Psychiatry Res. 2021 Jun 29;303:114089. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.114089

Institutional Betrayal and Help-Seeking among Women Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma. Monteith LL, Holliday R, Schneider AL, Miller CN, Bahraini NH, Forster JE. Psychol Trauma. 2021 Oct;13(7):814-823. doi: 10.1037/tra0001027. Epub 2021 Mar 25.

"We Really Need This": Trauma-Informed Yoga for Veteran Women with a history of Military Sexual Trauma. Braun TD, Uebelacker LA, Ward M, Holzhauer CG, McCallister K, Abrantes A. Complement Ther Med. 2021 May 6:102729. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102729

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Women Veterans who Experienced Military Sexual Trauma: Interim Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial. Kelly U, Haywood T, Segell E, Higgins M. J Altern Complement Med. 2021 Mar;27(S1):S45-S59. doi: 10.1089/acm.2020.0417

Institutional Betrayal and Help-Seeking among Women Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma. Monteith LL, Holliday R, Schneider AL, Miller CN, Bahraini NH, Forster JE. Psychol Trauma. 2021 Mar 25. doi: 10.1037/tra0001027

Female Veterans' Willingness to Seek Veterans Health Administration and Non-Veterans Health Administration Services for Suicidal Thoughts and Mental Health Concerns. Monteith LL, Holliday R, Hoffmire CA, Bahraini NH. Med Care. 2021 Feb 1;59:S23-S30. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001480

A Factor Analysis of the Suicide Cognitions Scale in Veterans with Military Sexual Trauma-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Wiblin J, Holder N, Holliday R, Jeon-Slaughter H, LePage J, Surís A. J Trauma Dissociation. 2021 Jan 18:1-13. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2020.1869643

"A Woman in A Man's World": A Pilot Qualitative Study of Challenges Faced by Women Veterans During and After Deployment. Brown EK M PH, MA, Guthrie KM PhD, Stange M, Creech S. J Trauma Dissociation. 2021 Jan 20:1-18. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2020.1869068

Mental Health and Psychosocial Functioning in Recently Separated U.S. Women Veterans: Trajectories and Bi-Directional Relationships. Lawrence KA, Vogt D, Dugan AJ, Nigam S, Slade E, Smith BN. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 22;18(3):935. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18030935

Health and Service-related Impact of Sexual and Stalking Victimization During United States Military Service on LGBT Service Members. Klemmer CL, Schuyler AC, Mamey MR, Schrager SM, Castro CA, Goldbach J, Holloway IW. J Interpers Violence. 2020 Oct 30:886260520970312. doi: 10.1177/0886260520970312

Emotion Dysregulation Predicts Dropout from Prolonged Exposure Treatment among Female Veterans with Military Sexual Trauma-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Gilmore AK, Lopez C, Muzzy W, Brown WJ, Grubaugh A, Oesterle DW, Acierno R. Womens Health Issues. 2020 Aug 23:S1049-3867(20)30069-4. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2020.07.004.

Factors Associated with Sexual Satisfaction among Veterans Who Have Experienced Military Sexual Trauma. Garneau-Fournier J, McBain S, Turchik JA.Garneau-Fournier J, et al. J Sex Marital Ther. 2020 Aug 26:1-15. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2020.1808548.

The Relationship Between Provider Gender Preferences and Perceptions of Providers Among Veterans Who Experienced Military Sexual Trauma. McBain SA, Garneau-Fournier J, Turchik JA.McBain SA, et al. J Interpers Violence. 2020 Aug 1:886260520944536. doi: 10.1177/0886260520944536.

How do gender and military sexual trauma impact PTSD symptoms in cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure? Khan AJ, Holder N, Li Y, Shiner B, Madden E, Seal K, Neylan TC, Maguen S.Khan AJ, et al. J Psychiatr Res. 2020 Jul 26;130:89-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.06.025.

Examining the Association between Trauma Exposure and Work-Related Outcomes in Women Veterans. Sienkiewicz ME, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020. PMID: 32630579

Comorbid PTSD and Depression Diagnoses Mediate the Association of Military Sexual Trauma and Suicide and Intentional Self-Inflicted Injury in VHA-Enrolled Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans, 2004-2014. Livingston WS, Fargo JD, Gundlapalli AV, Brignone E, Blais RK.Livingston WS, et al. J Affect Disord. 2020 Sep 1;274:1184-1190. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.05.024. Epub 2020 May 23.

Lifetime History of Sexual Assault and Emergency Department Service Use among Women Veterans. Vander Weg MW, Sadler AG, Abrams TE, Richardson K, Torner JC, Syrop CH, Mengeling MA.Vander Weg MW, et al. Womens Health Issues. 2020 Jun 19:S1049-3867(20)30043-8. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2020.05.003.

Factors Associated with U.S. Military Women Keeping Guns or Weapons Nearby for Personal Security Following Deployment. Sadler AG, Mengeling MA, Cook BL, Torner JC.Sadler AG, et al. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2020 May 27. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2019.8029. Online ahead of print.J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2020. PMID: 32460621

Improving outcomes for a 3-week intensive treatment program for posttraumatic stress disorder in survivors of military sexual trauma. Lofgreen AM, Tirone V, Carroll KK, Rufa AK, Smith DL, Bagley J, Zalta AK, Brennan MB, Van Horn R, Pollack MH, Held P. J Affect Disord. 2020 Mar 19;269:134-140. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.03.036. [Epub ahead of print]

Experiences of Sexual Harassment, Stalking, and Sexual Assault During Military Service Among LGBT and Non-LGBT Service Members. Schuyler AC, Klemmer C, Mamey MR, Schrager SM, Goldbach JT, Holloway IW, Castro CA. J Trauma Stress. 2020 Mar 26. doi: 10.1002/jts.22506. [Epub ahead of print]

Gender moderates the association of military sexual trauma and risk for psychological distress among VA-enrolled veterans. Tannahill HS, Livingston WS, Fargo JD, Brignone E, Gundlapalli AV, Blais RK.Tannahill HS, et al. J Affect Disord. 2020 May 1;268:215-220. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.03.017. Epub 2020 Mar 5.

Sex Differences in Military Sexual Trauma and Severe Self-Directed Violence. Gross GM, Ronzitti S, Combellick JL, Decker SE, Mattocks KM, Hoff RA, Haskell SG, Brandt CA, Goulet JL. Am J Prev Med. 2020 Feb 6. pii: S0749-3797(20)30017-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2019.12.006. [Epub ahead of print]

Comparing the effectiveness of VA residential PTSD treatment for veterans who do and do not report a history of MST: A national investigation. Holliday R, Smith NB, Holder N, Gross GM, Monteith LL, Maguen S, Hoff RA, Harpaz-Rotem I. J Psychiatr Res. 2020 Mar;122:42-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.12.012. Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Military Sexual Trauma and Sexual Health in Women Veterans: A Systematic Review. Pulverman CS, Christy AY, Kelly UA. Sex Med Rev. 2019 Jul;7(3):393-407. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2019.03.002. Epub 2019 Apr 24. Review.

The Prevalence of Military Sexual Trauma: A Meta-Analysis. Wilson LC. Trauma Violence Abuse. 2018 Dec;19(5):584-597. doi: 10.1177/1524838016683459. Epub 2016 Dec 16.

Military sexual trauma and suicidal behavior among National Guard personnel. White KL, Harris JA, Bryan AO, Reynolds M, Fuessel-Herrmann D, Bryan CJ. Compr Psychiatry. 2018 Nov;87:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2018.08.008. Epub 2018 Aug 18.

Specific PTSD symptom clusters mediate the association of military sexual trauma severity and sexual function and satisfaction in female service members/veterans. Blais RK, Geiser C, Cruz RA. J Affect Disord. 2018 Oct 1;238:680-688. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.05.052. Epub 2018 May 29.

Body Image Perceptions of Women Veterans With Military Sexual Trauma. Freysteinson WM, Mellott S, Celia T, Du J, Goff M, Plescher T, Allam Z. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2018 Aug;39(8):623-632. doi: 10.1080/01612840.2018.1445327. Epub 2018 Apr 12.

MMPI-2-RF characteristics of veterans seeking treatment for military sexual trauma. McManus ES, Cuccurullo LJ, Uddo M, Franklin CL. Psychol Assess. 2018 Apr;30(4):561-566. doi: 10.1037/pas0000527.

Prevalence of Military Sexual Trauma and Sexual Orientation Discrimination Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Military Personnel: a Descriptive Study. Gurung S, Ventuneac A, Rendina HJ, Savarese E, Grov C, Parsons JT. Sex Res Social Policy. 2018 Mar;15(1):74-82. Epub 2017 Dec 4.

Psychiatric and Interpersonal Correlates of Suicide Ideation in Military Sexual Trauma Survivors: The National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. Monteith LL, Smith NB, Holliday R, Pietrzak RH. Chronic Stress (Thousand Oaks). 2018 Jan-Dec;2. doi: 10.1177/2470547018815901. Epub 2018 Dec 6.

Using Structured and Unstructured Data to Refine Estimates of Military Sexual Trauma Status Among US Military Veterans. Gundlapalli AV, Brignone E, Divita G, Jones AL, Redd A, Suo Y, Pettey WBP, Mohanty A, Gawron L, Blais R, Samore MH, Fargo JD. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2017;238:128-131

Military-related trauma is associated with eating disorder symptoms in male veterans. Arditte Hall KA, Bartlett BA, Iverson KM, Mitchell KS. Int J Eat Disord. 2017 Nov;50(11):1328-1331. doi: 10.1002/eat.22782. Epub 2017 Sep 23.

Increased Health Care Utilization and Costs Among Veterans With a Positive Screen for Military Sexual Trauma. Brignone E, Gundlapalli AV, Blais RK, Kimerling R, Barrett TS, Nelson RE, Carter ME, Samore MH, Fargo JD. Med Care. 2017 Sep;55 Suppl 9 Suppl 2:S70-S77. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000767.

Military Sexual Trauma in Female Veterans is Associated With Chronic Pain Conditions. Cichowski SB, Rogers RG, Clark EA, Murata E, Murata A, Murata G. Mil Med. 2017 Sep;182(9):e1895-e1899. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-16-00393.

Conceptual model of male military sexual trauma. Elder WB, Domino JL, Rentz TO, Mata-Galán EL.
Psychol Trauma. 2017 Aug;9(Suppl 1):59-66. doi: 10.1037/tra0000194. Epub 2016 Sep 26.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma: Analysis of Previous Traumatization and Current Psychiatric Presentation. Williams R, Holliday R, Clem M, Anderson E, Morris EE, Surís A. J Interpers Violence. 2017 Aug;32(15):2223-2236. doi: 10.1177/0886260515596149. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

Military sexual trauma is associated with post-deployment eating disorders among Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. Blais RK, Brignone E, Maguen S, Carter ME, Fargo JD, Gundlapalli AV. Int J Eat Disord. 2017 Jul;50(7):808-816. doi: 10.1002/eat.22705. Epub 2017 Apr 12.

The influence of gender on suicidal ideation following military sexual trauma among Veterans in the Veterans Health Administration. Monteith LL, Bahraini NH, Matarazzo BB, Gerber HR, Soberay KA, Forster JE. Psychiatry Res. 2016 Oct 30;244:257-65. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.07.036. Epub 2016 Jul 22.

Military Sexual Trauma and Suicide Mortality. Kimerling R, Makin-Byrd K, Louzon S, Ignacio RV, McCarthy JF. Am J Prev Med. 2016 Jun;50(6):684-691. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.10.019. Epub 2015 Dec 14.

Preventing Veteran Homelessness by Reducing Military Sexual Trauma: Ensuring a Welcome Home. Mota N, Pietrzak RH, Sareen J. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Jun 1;73(6):551-2. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0136. No abstract available.

Differential Risk for Homelessness Among US Male and Female Veterans With a Positive Screen for Military Sexual Trauma. Brignone E, Gundlapalli AV, Blais RK, Carter ME, Suo Y, Samore MH, Kimerling R, Fargo JD. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Jun 1;73(6):582-9. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0101.

Online Reporting of Military Sexual Trauma. Burgess AW, Lee WJ, Carretta CM. Mil Med. 2016 Apr;181(4):350-5. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00026

Sexual Trauma and Adverse Health and Occupational Outcomes Among Men Serving in the U.S. Military. Millegan J, Wang L, LeardMann CA, Miletich D, Street AE. J Trauma Stress. 2016 Apr;29(2):132-40. doi: 10.1002/jts.22081. Epub 2016 Feb 24.

Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and Physical Victimization during Military Service across Age Cohorts of Women Veterans. Gibson CJ, Gray KE, Katon JG, Simpson TL, Lehavot K. Womens Health Issues. 2016 Mar-Apr;26(2):225-31. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2015.09.013. Epub 2015 Nov 26.

"Preliminary data suggest rates of male military sexual trauma may be higher than previously reported": Retraction of Sheppard et al. (2015). [No authors listed] Psychol Serv. 2016 Feb;13(1):48. doi: 10.1037/ser0000074. Epub 2015 Dec 7.

Military Sexual Trauma Among Recent Veterans: Correlates of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment. Barth SK, Kimerling RE, Pavao J, McCutcheon SJ, Batten SV, Dursa E, Peterson MR, Schneiderman AI. Am J Prev Med. 2016 Jan;50(1):77-86. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.06.012. Epub 2015 Jul 29.

Sexual Harassment and Assault in the U.S. Military: A Review of Policy and Research Trends. Stander VA, Thomsen CJ. Mil Med. 2016 Jan;181(1 Suppl):20-7. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00336. Review.

Sexual trauma in the military: Exploring PTSD and mental health care utilization in female veterans. Kintzle S, Schuyler AC, Ray-Letourneau D, Ozuna SM, Munch C, Xintarianos E, Hasson AM, Castro CA. Psychol Serv. 2015 Nov;12(4):394-401. doi: 10.1037/ser0000054.

Military sexual trauma among homeless veterans. Pavao J, Turchik JA, Hyun JK, Karpenko J, Saweikis M, McCutcheon S, Kane V, Kimerling R.J Gen Intern Med. 2013 Jul;28 Suppl 2:S536-41. doi: 10.1007/s11606-013-2341-4.

No available resources

No available resources

The Center is not responsible for the content or privacy policies of these Web sites and linking to these sites does not constitute endorsement by the Center of the sites' sponsors or the information, products, or services they provide.

List of MST Coordinators at your local Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office.

Stories from survivors

Health.mil: Information about the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs.
Health.mil

Department of Defense Safe Helpline: This crisis support service is available to any member of the Department of Defense community affected by sexual assault. You can click, call, or text to get anonymous one-on-one advice, support, and information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Go to www.safehelpline.org for a live chat or to view resources.

External Link Disclaimer: This page contains links that will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.

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