Military sexual trauma include both sexual assault and sexual harassment while under a military setting. The United States Department of Veteran Affairs recently published an article outlining the issues involved with veteran care.
The sexual harassment can include anything from unwelcome physical or verbal conduct involving gender, sexuality, and sexual coercion. Sexual harassment involves both men and women. Sexual harassment does tend to be reported by women and higher rates then men. As far as sexual assault the rates of sexual assaults being reported for women versus men is 6% for women and 1% for men.
Does Sexual Trauma Happen During Wartime in the Military?
The VA reports that it occurs both during wartime and during times of peace or training. The stress associated with being in wartime may however contribute to the increase of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
How Do Sexual Trauma Cases in the Military Differ From Civilian Cases?
Sexual trauma in the military is less likely to be a random event and more often occurs directly within the victims workplace or living quarters. In addition, military sexual trauma causes further damage because it directly affects the victim’s career goals as the person responsible for causing the trauma is often a supervisor or a peer and will often have power over the victim in regards to work-related issues.
What Are the Psychological Outcomes of Being a Victim of Sexual Trauma in the Military?
Being a victim of sexual trauma in the military can often cause the victim to physical and health problems as well as instances of PTSD. The effects of the victimisation can be even more pronounced in men as there is often a stigma attached to the fact that they are not often able to speak up about the victimisation because of the fear that they may be stigmatised.
Emotional responses to the victimisation include feelings of worthlessness, guilt or anger. The victim may also have trouble trusting others, participating in social activities or feel that they are having issues with sexual dysfunction.
Currently there are no methods of screening or assessment that have been made available specifically to deal with instances of victimisation in the military. Instead the military has simply adopted the methods of screening and assessment that apply to the general population of victims of sexual trauma and applies these methods to military situations. A method of screening that has been said to result in positive outcomes in screening patients is to simply ask the patient questions about whether or not they experienced the sexual trauma and other questions related to the event so that that the healthcare professional can document the findings and figure out the best way to treat the patient for the victimisation.
The VA is working to develop more methods for treating victims of sexual trauma as the treatment options are usually based around making sure that the victim is made to feel safe as well as providing help with coping skills to deal with the victimisation.