Military Sexual Trauma: How Does It Impact Its Survivors?

Military Sexual Trauma: How Does It Impact Its Survivors?

In modern society, sexual trauma is considered a threat to individuals’ lives. Roughly 30% of women and 1% of men report having experienced military sexual trauma. But what is military sexual trauma? As defined by the Department of Veterans Affairs, military sexual trauma is assault or harassment of sexual nature experienced by an individual while serving in the military. It can happen regardless of gender, rank, or station. This assault can affect the life of a person, deteriorating physical and mental health. Below are the associated implications resulting from the trauma.

Mental Health Impacts

Military sexual assault lawyers are likely to be approached by veterans victimized by fellow service members. Consequently, it may lead to more social isolation from others and a higher degree of emotional distress for victims. This may bring about intentional self-harm and anxiety disorders that may bring about unhealthy coping mechanisms and relationship problems, as explained below:

Relationship and Social Functioning Problems

A victim of military sexual trauma may experience difficulty maintaining or building new relationships. Mostly, these veterans feel disconnected, experiencing problems paying attention or concentrating, often drifting away while conversing. As a result of social anxiety, these veterans may avoid social gatherings such as celebrations, even amongst close friends and family. This may, in turn, affect close family and friends, causing disappointment and hurt from reduced relations with their loved ones who’ve experienced military sexual trauma. Survivors may also avoid all kinds of intimacy with family members, often feeling uncomfortable from touch or any form of physical closeness.

Drug Abuse

Substance abuse can lead to broken relationships, violence, and health effects from heavy drug doses. So, why do people abuse drugs? Scores of survivors of military sexual trauma turn to coping mechanisms, with studies showing a high prevalence of up to 10 times higher among survivors than among non-victims of sexual assault. Despite being an unhealthy and destructive coping mechanism, drugs produce feel-good effects that help survivors cope with mental and emotional pain.

Physical Health Impacts

High levels of stress caused by military sexual trauma on someone can take an intense physical toll on their bodies. Effects include:

Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual functioning can be adversely affected by military sexual trauma, with some survivors experiencing hypersexuality and low sex drive among both men and women. Hypersexual people have repeated sexual impulses that are uncontrollable. The sense of fear of worry from sexual trauma while on service may lead to obsessive sexual desires that release endorphins, which in turn help relieve the anxiety symptoms. Also, this increase in sexual activity may be a reaction to gaining a sense of power or a feeling that sex is unimportant. On the other hand, survivors may react by avoiding sexual activity because they may fear being vulnerable and lacking control of their bodies.


Traumatic stress can negatively impact sleep in various ways, with victims often displaying a state of heightened awareness to guard themselves against harm. Survivors may also get a sense of fear of being vulnerable while asleep and may have nightmares that may bring about hypervigilance. This lack of sleep may lead to tiredness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

Military sexual trauma is a harrowing experience that can psychologically and physically impair an individual. It is important to let victims know they’re not alone and are open to exploring various treatment options. These include, but are not limited to, art therapy, lifestyle changes, peer support groups, and lifestyle changes. As a loved one, involving oneself in these treatment options is crucial as it can have a positive therapeutic effect on the victim.

Emma Chris

Emma Chris is the founder of Forbes Era. Emma helps businesses to make their online presence by helping them to connect with their potential customers.

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