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Moral Injury_Military Sexual Trauma


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From our Moral Injury and Veterans Symposium in September 2015. Presented by Star Lara.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Moral Injury_Military Sexual Trauma

  1. 1. Military Sexual Trauma PRESENTED BY: Star Lara Women Veterans Program Manager INSTITUTE FOR VETERAN POLICY Moral Injury Symposium
  2. 2. Military Sexual Trauma DEFINING MILITARY SEXUALTRAUMA Department of Veterans Affairs: Title 38 U.S. Code 1720D Psychological trauma, which resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.  Sexual harassment is further defined as repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.
  3. 3. Military Sexual Trauma DEFINING MILITARY SEXUALTRAUMA Sexual assault can include any sort of sexual activity in which someone is involved against his or her will.  Physically forced into sexual activities.  Unable to consent to sexual activities (e.g., when intoxicated).  Pressured into sexual activities (e.g., with threats of consequences or promises of rewards).  Compliance does not equal consent.
  4. 4. Military Sexual Trauma DEFINING MILITARY SEXUALTRAUMA Sexual harassment can involve:  Threatening, offensive remarks about a person’s body or sexual activities.  Threatening and unwelcome sexual advances.  Unwanted touching or grabbing.
  5. 5. Military Sexual Trauma MST is an experience, not a diagnosis MST IS AN EXPERIENCE, NOT A DIAGNOSIS
  6. 6. Military Sexual Trauma SURVIVORS  Feel intense betrayal of loyalty and respect for service and chain of command.  Their value as a service member is violated.  MST challenges service members’ socialization and values.  They may also feel shame, guilt, and disbelief.  They may fear retaliation or punishment.  They may be concerned about perception of mental health and being fit to serve.  They may feel they need to make a choice – military career or seeking corrective action.
  7. 7. Military Sexual Trauma PERPETRATORS  May wield control over the survivor.  Likely to outrank the survivor.  Most likely to be a member or a superior in their unit.  Can continue to control and violate.
  8. 8. Military Sexual Trauma MENVS. WOMEN SURVIVORS  While much attention has been brought to military sexual trauma among women, the reported incidence among men has at times surpassed that of women.  At most, 13 percent of men report their assaults, whereas at least 40 percent of women report and fewer men seek MST services from the VA.  Prior to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, men who survived military sexual assault may have been discharged for homosexual conduct if the perpetrator was a man. *SAPRO 2014; GAO 2014; Burks 2011
  9. 9. Institutional Betrayal  Introduced by Jennifer Freyd in 2009  Refers to "wrongdoings perpetrated by an institution upon individuals dependent on that institution, including failure to prevent or respond supportively to wrongdoings by individuals committed within the context of the institution  When institutions such as universities or the military cover up or fail to prosecute violations such as rape and sexual assault
  10. 10. Institutional Betrayal  BetrayalTrauma  Institutional environments are expected to be safe  Resulting in more difficulties as one continues to try and serve after an assault  Exacerbates the traumatic experience  Undermines survivors' recovery
  11. 11. Common Symptoms/Impact  Emotional extremes and/or emotional disengagement or flatness  Difficulties with attention, concentration and memory  Re-experiencing and strong emotional reactions to reminders  Hyper-vigilance  Trouble sleeping, nightmares  Suicidal thoughts or behavior  Self-harm  Eating disorders  Dissociation  Drinking and drug use  Re-victimization  Difficulties with hierarchical environments
  12. 12. Thank You for Your Attendance Copyright © 2015 by Swords to Plowshares All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Swords to Plowshares Institute for Veteran Policy 1060 Howard Street San Francisco, CA 94103 Star Lara Woman Veterans Program Manager