What you need to know about Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

Did You Know?

What is MST?
(Military Sexual Trauma)

A Flawed System

An estimated 20,300 active-duty service members experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2014. (9,600 women and 10,600 men)

Rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment are one of the leading causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among women veterans and puts them at a higher risk for homelessness.
Sexual harassment is a common experience in the military, especially among women.

An estimated 116,600 active-duty service members were sexually harassed in 2014; 22% of women and 7% of men.

R.A.N.D estimates that 43,900 active-duty service members experienced gender discrimination in 2014. In nearly 60 percent of these cases, the violations were committed by a supervisor or unit leader.

62% of the victims who filed a report perceived some sort of professional or social retaliation, administrative action and/or punishment.

40% of homeless women veterans have been a victim of military sexual assault.


MST includes any sexual activity where a Service member is involved against his or her will - he or she may have been pressured into sexual activities (for example, with threats of negative consequences for refusing to be sexually cooperative or with implied better treatment in exchange for sex), may have been unable to consent to sexual activities (for example, when intoxicated), or may have been physically forced into sexual activities. Other experiences that fall into the category of MST include:
Unwanted sexual touching or grabbing

Threatening, offensive remarks about a person's body or sexual activities.

Threatening and unwelcome sexual advances
Other experiences that fall into the category of MST include:
Unwanted sexual touching or grabbing.

Threatening, offensive remarks about a person’s body or sexual activities.

Threatening and unwelcome sexual advances.

Sexually hostile work environment

Quid Pro Quo Violations. Harm to military career because a sexual act was NOT given or a workplace benefit in exchange for doing something sexual.
Investigations and courts marshal are conducted within the military, almost always with officers in the direct chain of command deciding whether or not to file charges.

The Convening Authority (the officer deciding whether or not to file charges) is not an attorney or prosecutor.  They are regular military officers, pilots, artillery officers or surface warfare officers.

A victim can file a “restricted” or “unrestricted” report. 

In the case of a restricted report, the victim wants to receive medical treatment and counseling but does not want to notify anyone and pursue prosecution.In this case, the military is not notified and the attacker will not be investigated or charged.This leaves the victim exposed to his or her attacker.

In an ideal world, an unrestricted report allows military protocol to fall into place and protection for the victim.Unfortunately too often this is not the case.
Source: 2014 R.A.N.D report “Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military” released spring 2015