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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. Anyone can experience MST, regardless of gender.

In more concrete terms, MST includes any unwanted sexual activity. Examples include:  

  • Being threatened or pressured into sexual activities, such as with threats or promises of better assignments
  • Sexual contact without your consent, such as when asleep or intoxicated
  • Being physically forced to have sex
  • Being touched in a way that made you uncomfortable
  • Repeated comments about your body or sexual activities
  • Threatening and unwanted sexual advances

If you think you have experienced MST, VA and its resources are 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. 

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

About Military Sexual Trauma

Watch this video to learn about what types of experiences that might be involved in MST, the effects of MST on survivors, and the services available to Veterans who have experienced MST.
Watch this video

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