Common Misconceptions of Military Sexual Trauma

October 10, 2021

At Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC, we represent many survivors of Military Sexual Trauma, also called MST. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, take a look at our recent blog covering Military Sexual Trauma Disability Claims. In this article, we will address some common misconceptions people often have about MST.

Misconception #1

Only young women experience MST.

That is false, people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations experience MST. Our firm has represented hundreds of veterans in their VA MST cases.

Misconception #2

All MST survivors have PTSD.

Not every survivor of MST suffers from PTSD, some have other health effects, and some have none. A survivor may file a claim for any disability that results from an in-service event, mental or physical.

Misconception #3

All sexual trauma wounds are mental.

Some survivors can cope with the traumatic event mentally but still suffer physical disabilities from injuries or even STDs related to the trauma event.

If a veteran suffers some physical disability due to in-service sexual trauma, they can file a claim for VA service-connected disability.

Misconception #4

All survivors remember the details of the trauma event.

Actually, trauma negatively affects memory. Most survivors cannot recall all details of the event because of a heightened neurological response to the trauma as it is happening. That part of the brain that normally captures details is not working normally during the event, so the survivor is likely not able to recall all details of the event.

Other evidence may be used to substantiate a VA claim for MST, such as medical records, lay statements, buddy statements, changes in behavior such as substance abuse, or eating disorders, changes in work performance – good or bad – or later treatment records documenting the event.

Misconception #5

All MST survivors seek mental health treatment.

Active-duty service members who are MST survivors often do not seek treatment either because they do not have support in their Chain of Command, or they do not wish to reveal this event to their C.O.C. Post-service, many MST survivors wish to move on and try to put the event behind them. Survivors who deal with mental health effects may not wish to seek treatment because it is too painful to revisit the event.

Misconception #6

All sexual assaults are rapes.

On the contrary, MST can be:

  • Sexual encounters that are forced, coerced or perpetrated while someone is unwilling or unable to give consent.
  • Unwanted physical contact that makes you uncomfortable.
  • Repeated sexual advances.
  • Offers of something in exchange for sexual favors.
  • Inappropriate sexual jokes or lewd remarks.

MST Disability Attorney

If you are a military sexual trauma survivor or know someone who is, our team of compassionate legal professionals are available to help. Call us at (800) 693-4800, or fill out a Free Claim Evaluation form on our website.

Medical Issues / Disability, PTSD