The Trauma Lines Blog

Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

Posts Tagged ‘Military Sexual Trauma

Washington Seeks to Fight Military Sexual Trauma…But What’s the Best Way?

with one comment

“What I had to deal with in the Air Force just about destroyed me,” [Vietnam Vet JoAnn] White told The Arizona Republic. “I hope telling what happened to me will help other women. I am fed up and tired. I want the word out there.”

The ongoing conflict in the Middle East has unfortunately forced many around this country to wage a different war, one not fought with guns or missiles, one fought with lawsuits and legislation.

Military sexual trauma (MST) is an issue our military has been dealing with for a long, long time. Take JoAnn’s case, she’s still unable to work because of the abuse she sustained from her peers while serving in Vietnam.

And obviously, the problem of MST persists to this day:

Last year, 3,158 sexual assaults were reported by men and women serving in all branches of the Armed Forces, according to the Department of Defense’s Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. But the department estimates that last year’s number reflects only about 13.5 percent of the total number of assaults on men and women in active duty last year.

Another estimate from the VA says a mere 10 percent of the total abuse cases which occur are actually reported.

Many are trying to change that, including our lawmakers who introduced the “Defense Sexual Trauma Response, Oversight and Good Governance” — or Defense STRONG — Act last month:

If passed, it would give military sexual assault victims the right to legal counsel and to transfer to another base after making a complaint. The bill also would mandate increased training on bases to prevent sex assaults.

But is the real problem for MST victims the lack of resources or the “culture” of the military itself?

Many believe that the best way to get at the root problem of sexual violence is through training early in a military career.

“Correcting the culture within the military is being done in a very pointed way,” said Joice Jones, a civilian social worker who coordinates Luke Air Force Base’s sexual assault prevention and response program and helps run prevention workshops.

Jones compares many of the airmen and airwomen stationed at Luke to first-year college students: They are away from home for the first time and need information about date rape prevention as well as how to intervene if they see someone on base being sexually harassed or assaulted.

READERS: How can our government best address this epidemic? Does it come down to funding, is it merely the actions of a few bad seeds, or should our military look into overhauling its entire “culture”?

Written by traumalines

May 24, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Groups Call for Greater Transparency Regarding Military Sexual Trauma

leave a comment »

We first wrote about military sexual trauma (MST) back in May of this year. Despite increased efforts from the VA to educate, treat and prevent MST, certain agencies have come forward saying that clearly is not enough.

Increased Transparency

Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) — an advocacy group for female veterans — and the ACLU have teamed up against the Defense Department to increase the transparency of possible sexual abuse that occurs within the different branches of the military by demanding the release of MST records.

Not only are the SWAN and the ACLU seeking increased transparency, education, prevention, and funding, they’re taking it one step further and seeking to increase prosecutions. 

The Available Stats Are Alarming

Granted, MST is more of a less-known incidence then, say, PTSD, but the statistics that are available are alarming:

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the DOD and VA have been asked to make public their records concerning the instance rates of MST and the action taken for those reported instances. While the full scope of MST is still not known, the available data is shocking. Recent survey’s have shown that instances of sexual assault and rape are double that of the civilian population. An estimated 1 in 3 women experience sexual assault during their enlistment and that 6-23% of female servicemembers are the victim of rape or attempted rape. Additionally, those studies reveal that 14% of military rape victims are the victims of gang rape. (Read More)

According to an article by Brett Edward Stout of SheWired.com, “While it is unclear how successful the lawsuit (filed by SWAN) will be, when asked if the lawsuit itself will help shed light on this dark secret of the military, [Anuradha Bhagwati, Executive Director of SWAN] answered confidently, ‘Absolutely.’”

Written by traumalines

December 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with

Military Sexual Trauma

with one comment

PTSD isn’t always a result of trauma sustained on the battlefield. For some soldiers, post-traumatic stress has been the result of sexual abuse.

While a catch-all term that encompasses everything from sexual harassment to sexual assault, “Military Sexual Trauma” is a growing concern for the VA.

The VA says more than 48,000 veterans tested positive for Military Sexual Abuse in 2008 alone. However, officials feel as though that number is likely far greater, since, like many victims of sexual abuse, veterans choose to keep their trauma a secret:

“Similar to male veterans, women who have served in the military are quite strong,” says Eve Davison, a clinical psychologist at the VA hospital in Boston.

Many women vets don’t want to talk about sexual trauma. They don’t want to admit it. They don’t want to report it. 

What is the VA doing to combat this trauma?

“[The VA] provides free care to any veteran that walks into VA medical centers that screens positive for military sexual trauma,” [Erin Mulhall, a director of research for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group] says. “It’s bolstered training for its mental health professionals on [military sexual trauma] and also provides disability compensation for those that have developed some major health problems due to their trauma.”

Click here for more information on Military Sexual Trauma from VA.gov.

Written by traumalines

May 20, 2010 at 6:59 pm