Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center

Support our troops

What is Military Sexual Trauma (MST)? 

Military Sexual Trauma (MST), according to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, MST includes:

“Any sexual activity where someone is involved against his or her will – he or she may have been pressured into sexual activities, may have been unable to consent to sexual activities, or may have been physically forced into sexual activities. Other experiences that fall into the category of MST include unwanted sexual touching or grabbing; threatening, offensive remarks about a person’s body or sexual activities; and/or threatening and unwelcome sexual advances.”

MST does affect both men and women and is frequently under-reported and even judging by conservative estimates, still occurs with extremely alarming frequency. For someone who has experienced sexual violence during their service, there are resources available to assist, support, and advocate for you on and off the University of Michigan campus. SAPAC is dedicated to providing resources and support to MST survivors whether they are veterans or current service members.

 

What is the Frequency of MST?

  • Today, a woman serving in Iraq or Afghanistan is more likely to be sexually assaulted by a fellow service member, than killed by enemy fire.
  • 1% of men in the military – nearly 20,000 men, were reportedly assaulted in 2009.

Even though the Department of Defense has implemented a “Zero Tolerance Policy’ against these heinous acts of sexual misconduct, the number of sexual assault incidents have continued to grow.

  • Since 2006, more than 95,000 service members have been sexually assaulted in the US military.
  •  More than 86% of service members do not report their assault.
  • Less than 5% of all sexual assaults are put forward for prosecution, and less than one third of those cases result in imprisonment.

(Invisible No More, http://www.notinvisible.org/about)

 

  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 100 men seen in VHA (Veteran’s Health Administration) respond “yes” when screened for MST.

(Military Sexual Trauma ‘MST’ http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/military-sexual-trauma-general.asp)

 

  • 26% of transgendered veterans have experienced physical assault and 16% have been sexually assaulted.
  • Of transgendered individuals who have experienced sexual assault, 64% have attempted suicide.

(SWAN: Service Women’s Action Network)

 

According to the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military:

Each year, the majority of sexual assault reports received by the MCIOs (Military Criminal Investigation Organization) involve the victimization of Service members by other service members.
 
Gender of Survivors in Completed Investigations of Unrestricted Reports (Captures sexual assaults committed by and against service members, can include people outside the US Armed Forces who may assault a Service member or a Service member can assaulting someone who is not a Service member. Can also include one or more survivors or one or more subjects).
Female: 88%
Male: 12%
 
Gender of Subjects in Completed Investigations of Unrestricted Reports in FY 2011:
Male subjects: 89%
Female: 2%
Unidentified Subjects: 9%
 
Age of Survivors in Completed Investigations of Unrestricted Reports in the FY 2011:
Age 16-19 = 17%
Age 20-24 = 51%
Age 25-34 = 23%
Age 35-49 = 6%
Age 50-64+ = 1%
Age unknown = 2%
 
Age of Subjects in Completed Investigations of Unrestricted Reports in FY 2011:
Age 16-19 = 5%
Age 20-24 = 35%
Age 25-34 = 28%
Age 35–49 = 10%
Age 50–64 = 1%
Age 65 and older = <1%
Age unknown = 21%
 
Unrestricted Reports of Sexual Assault by Service Member Involvement in FY 2011:
-Service member against Service member (56%)
-Service member against non-Service member (26%)
-Non-Service member against Service member (6%)
-Unidentified subject against Service member (12%)
 
Most unrestricted reports of sexual assault involve 3 crimes:
  • Rape
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Wrongful sexual contact 
 
During the fiscal year 2011 (October 1st 2010 – September 30th 2011) the Military Services received a total of 3, 192 reports of sexual assault involving Service members as either victims or subjects. 
  • 2,723 Service members reported being a victim of sexual assault 

Common Reactions of Survivors of MST:

Strong Emotions:
  • Feeling depressed, having intense sudden emotional reactions, frequently feeling angry or irritable.
  • Thoughts about death and/or attempting suicide 
Feelings of Numbness:
  • Feeling emotionally ‘flat;’ difficulty experiencing emotions like love or happiness. 
Trouble Sleeping:
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep; disruptive nightmares. 
Difficulties with Attention, Concentration, and Memory:
  • Trouble staying focused, frequently finding their mind wandering, having a hard time remembering things.
Problems with Alcohol or Drugs:
  • Drinking to excess or using drugs daily; getting intoxicated or ‘high’ to cope with memories or emotional reactions; drinking to fall asleep. 
Difficulty with Things that Remind Them of Their Experiences of Sexual Trauma:
  • Feeling ‘on the edge’ or ‘jumpy,’ rarely feeling ‘safe,’ going out of their way to avoid reminders of their experiences, difficulty trusting others. 
Difficulties in Relationships:
  • Feeling isolated or disconnected from others; abusive relationships, trouble with employers or authority figures. 
  • Avoiding friends, family, and other significant others. 
Physical Health Problems:
  • Sexual difficulties, chronic pain, weight or eating disturbances, gastrointestinal issues. 
*Medical records indicate that Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders such as depression, mood disorders, and substance use are commonly found with MST
 
Military Sexual Trauma ‘MST’
 
Mental Health Center: Military Sexual Trauma Overview. 
 
 
Resources:
Student Veterans Assistance Program
  • Office of New Student Programs (734-764-6413)
  • Assists students with making the transition from active military duty to U-M, and from U-M to active military duty.
  • Contact Person: Philip Larson; Transition Specialist
  • Email: pnlarson@umich.edu
SWAN (Service Women’s Action Network)
  • SWAN supports, defends, advocates on behalf of, and empowers today’s servicewomen and women veterans, through advocacy initiatives and innovative, healing community programs. SWAN also focuses on revamping the current military culture to not only ensure equal opportunity, but also the freedom to serve without the fear of assault, harassment, or discrimination. 
Safe Helpline 
  • Offers services (Click, Call, and Texting), provided by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)  through a contract with the DoD's (Department of Defense) Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) to support survivors of sexual violence 24/7.
  • Information will remain confidential.
  •  RAINN will not share your name or any other personally identifying information with SAPRO or your chain of command.
Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
  • Offers an overview of MST, articles and fact sheets, VA programs and services that are available to assist survivors, and video testimonials from other surviving veterans who have experienced sexual trauma and are going through recovery.

Rape of Women in a War Zone

Sexual Assault Against Females 

Traumatic Stress in Women Veterans

Women, Trauma and PTSD

Women’s Mental Health Services in the VA 

Futures Without Violence
  • Works to prevent and end violence against women and children around the world, advance the health, stability, education, and security of women and girls, men and boys worldwide.
United States Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response 
  • The Department of Defense, in accordance with other Service branches, make data available on reported sexual assaults, as well as the policies, procedures and processes that are in place, in order to help remedy the issue of sexual assault in the military. 
Protect Our Defenders  
  • Help survivors of sexual violence find appropriate services/referrals, supports initiatives to improve victim and survivor care through their survivor support network, forums and e-library, provides opportunities for survivors, their families and advocates to organize and support each other through community building projects/events, and support policy initiatives to reform how the Department of Defense deals with sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault to eliminate policies, procedures, and training methods tied to the issues of sexual violence that often engage in victim-blaming.
Protect Our Defenders Survivor Stories Video Gallery: