This was a regular question we struggled with as we started having critical conversations with the intent to bring about awareness on the true impact of MST. It was hard to articulate because unless you have served in the military it is hard to truly understand the culture and commitments required. By accepting to serve in the military you inherently surrender some rights; the main one being you cannot just go AWOL without explanation.
If you have been sexually assaulted by someone in the military, it was done by someone you were trained and told you were supposed to trust with your life in a crisis. When that trust is betrayed, it causes a myriad of trauma; moral (and possibly physical injury), institutional betrayal, and post-traumatic stress.
Some differences are, but not limited to:
In the military:
In the civilian world:
Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families has done outstanding work in creating cadres of Persons With Lived Experience (PWLEs) that collaborate with clinicians and reserachers to create diverse information resources that can be used by military and RCMP members and their families healing from Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSIs) .
In particular they have created a resource on Military Sexual Trauma, and more are being developed to help Clinicians and loved ones understand MST symptoms better, and tips on how to have trauma-informed conversations.
Click below for a direct link.
You will see PTSD-MST sometimes, because MST is not a diagnosis, it is the "mechanism of injury" that leads to PTSD. As research evolves, the term Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSI) is being used more to describe those injuries that lead to a diagnosis of PTSD. Nuances between MST, Moral Injury, Sanctuary Trauma are being more clearly defined.
In 2018, the Federal Framework on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act (Act C-211) was passed by the Parliament of Canada to address the “clear need for persons who have served as first responders, firefighters, military personnel, corrections officers and members of the RCMP to receive direct and timely access to PTSD support.”
This Act also called for the creation of a federal framework on PTSD, and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) was mandated to lead the development of this framework.
It is important for Clinicians and Researchers to have clearly defined descriptions when treating or researching psychological trauma, and having a reference document is essential.
Having MST defined and included in Version 3.0 of the HPCDP Journal is a huge step in recognizing the unique differences of PTSD-MST from other psychological trauma. We were humbly grateful to be included in the wide reaching consultations on the draft definition to ensure PWLEs believe it to be a realistic definition vs strictly clinical based.
If interested, below is a link to the Health Prevention and Chronic Disease in Canada (HPCDP) Journal that provides the methodolgy used to update the Glossary of Terms, and of course the glossary itself.
Rape in the Military
The hour-long film examines the problem of rape and sexual assault in the military from the viewpoint of the survivors as well as from experts who are studying this issue. Filmmakers Jennifer Molina and Sarah Pusateri traveled to the Pentagon to find out what the Department of Defense says it’s doing to combat what even they call “a very big problem.”
Baltimore Sun Interview with US Navy Veteran Brian Lewis
Military leaders are under pressure from The White House and Congress to eliminate rape in the military,
but many do not realize the problem exists for both women and men
The rate for military sexual assaults is almost equal for
both sexes in the service.
A huge obstacle to prosecution is getting male victims to report assaults and cooperate in investigations.
Son, Men Don't Get Raped
A compilation of stories from American military men you never hear—because the culprits almost always go free, the survivors rarely speak, and no one in the military or Congress has done enough to stop it.
A study that examined what male and female veterans considered sexual harassment
Male US veterans who served during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are less likely than female veterans to label harassment experiences as sexual harassment, according to a new study co-authored by School of Public Health researcher.