I am sitting in an afternoon break out on Military Sexual Trauma presented by Sue Ann Garrison PhD, MSA. Some facts about MST: Its not just rape but includes Sexual harassment as well. The numbers: Among women who participate in the VA health services 55% experience sexual harassment, 23% experience sexual assault. These numbers include only women in the VA and it is estimated that only 20% of harassment or assault are actually reported. Restricted reporting of MST gets the victim help but does not prosecute the perpetrator. Unrestricted reporting does follow up with the intent of prosecuting the assailant. Men also experience sexual harassment and sexual assault. When any Vet has a physical at the VA it is required by law that they be asked if they have experienced MST.
MST investigations are still controlled by the victim’s commander rather than the legal system. Many commanders decline to prosecute. Since 2007 the number of cases not prosecuted has decreased. SO we are seeing some improvement as well, in fact 71% of cases with sufficient evidence have been investigated since 07. However many of these investigations led to minor or no punishment. Only 197 out of over 5000 were actually convicted as sex offenders.
The big message: Make sure you are asked about MST when you visit the VA because victims of MST are more likely to suffer form ill health including PTSD, depression, substance use, Obsessive Compulsive disorder and Suicidal ideation. The rated of PTSD are higher for people who experience sexual trauma than people who experienced combat.
Two effective therapies for PTSD:
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)