Military Sexual Trauma
Military Sexual Trauma
Military sexual trauma and the COVID-19 pandemic
Living with military sexual trauma or related conditions requires being a full and active participant in your own treatment. That’s especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, which can bring about some new challenges in managing your recovery. Learn more about managing these challenges here.
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
Anyone can experience MST, regardless of gender. Like other types of trauma, MST can negatively affect a person’s mental and physical health, even many years later. Things you may experience could include:
- Disturbing memories or nightmares
- Difficulty feeling safe
- Feelings of depression or numbness
- Problems with alcohol or other drugs
- Feeling isolated from other people
- Problems with anger, irritability, or other strong emotions
- Issues with sleep
- Physical health problems
If you are having current difficulties related to MST, VA is here to support you in whatever way will help you best — from simply learning more about how MST affects people, to treatment that helps you cope with how MST is impacting your life currently, or if you prefer, treatment that involves discussing your experiences in more depth.
Watch the below video to learn about the effects of MST on survivors and the services VA has available to assist in recovery.”
Coping suggestions and resources for connecting with care for MST survivors and others feeling pain and distress due to recent events related to MST and violence toward people of color.
This website focuses on the MST-related health care services that VA has available.
For information about VA disability compensation for conditions related to MST, please view this fact sheet about Disability Compensation for Personal Assault or Military Sexual Trauma.
Help with VA Services and Benefits
For help with treatment and health care related to experiences of MST, please contact your local VA medical center and ask to speak to the MST Coordinator.
For help with disability compensation related to MST, please contact the MST Coordinator at your local Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office or contact the Veterans Benefits Administration MST Coordinator at your local Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office.