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Military Sexual Trauma


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A brief overview of Military Sexual Trauma

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Military Sexual Trauma

  1. 1. Women Warriors & Military Sexual Trauma<br />Janet Cater, M.S., CRC<br />University of Arkansas<br />
  2. 2. World War II<br /><ul><li>Many servicemen resented women doing “masculine jobs” & started rumors demeaning women volunteers.</li></ul>President Roosevelt thought rumors were the actions of enemy saboteurs<br />Women were hassled & felt many men treated them as if they were prostitutes. (Holm, 1982, p. 85)<br />
  3. 3. Military Sexual Trauma<br />Admiral Michelle Howard<br />Definition:<br />Gender harassment<br />Unwanted sexual attention & sexual coercion<br />Sexual Assault – any sexual activity that is forced including touching, grabbing and sexual intercourse <br />(National Center for PTSD)<br />
  4. 4. Military Sexual Trauma (MST)<br />Women are 3X more likely to experience MST<br />1% men experienced MST<br />Reported rates of female MST vary from 20% to 63%. Estimated 80% unreported to DoD. <br />Servicewomen report they are labeled either a “bitch, a dyke or a whore” by male servicemen (Corbett, 2007; Kimmerling, et al., 2007; Suris & Lind, 2008;VA) <br />
  5. 5. Affects of MST<br />Avoid places or things that remind you of incident<br />Avoid family, friends, & other people<br />Trouble sleeping or nightmares<br />Feel numb<br />Relationship problems<br />Think about death or killing yourself<br />(WebMD)<br />
  6. 6. Prevalance of MSTOEF – Afghanistan & OIF - Iraq<br />11% of troops are women<br />Invasion of Iraq – 80% of the feet on the ground were Reserves & National Guard which is 24% female <br />60% of these women experienced MST vs. 27% of males<br />Often the only woman in their unit<br />13% experienced Sexual Assault vs. 1.6% for males (Street, Stafford, Mahan & Hendricks, 2008)<br />
  7. 7. Women with MST <br />71% of women seeking disability for PTSD reported history of MST<br />PTSD & MST untreated can have long term health consequences<br />Substance abuse<br />Dissociative disorders<br />Eating disorders<br />Employment difficulties<br />Increased suicide risk<br />Major depression<br />Physical illness <br />Major Tammy Duckworth <br />Kimmerling, et al., 2007; Murdoch, et al., 2004; Suris, et al, 2009<br />
  8. 8. Military Justice System<br />3 Elements<br />The Uniform Code of Military Justice…not significantly revised since 1950s<br />Judge Advocate General Corps – represent commanding authority of installation, ship, etc.<br />Command Discretion: commanders decide if a case goes to court martial<br />Miles Foundation, 2005<br />
  9. 9. Women in U.S. Military<br />Army 14%<br />Marines 6%<br />Navy 15%<br />Air Force 20%<br />Coast Guard 12%<br />Reserves 24%<br />National Guard 15%<br /> (, 2009)<br />Director of the Women’s Research and Education Institute, “There’s no going back. If you tried to pull women out of the equation, this country could not fight a war.” (Martineau & Wiegand, 2005, p. 1)<br />Army 4 Star General Ann Dunwoody<br />
  10. 10. MST & Military Attrition<br />Rate of attrition for women is 30% higher than the rate for men across all branches of service<br />MST & Attrition is a factor that has yet to be studied<br />When a commander & troops ignore MST it creates hostile work & living environment<br />Women who report MST frequently suffer hazing or retaliation<br />Failure to prosecute sexual offenders often results in women being discharged instead<br />
  11. 11. Prevention <br />Promote & Honor more servicewomen<br />Top Down Attitudes of Intolerance for MST<br />Punish both perpetrators & any commanding officers who cover up or ignore<br />Investigate all allegations of MST <br />5,000 accused sexual offenders escaped punishment since 1992 ---The Denver Post, 2003<br />Stop making reports of MST a “career ender” for women<br />End Discrimination against homosexuals<br /><ul><li>Women are pressured into sex under threat of being labeled lesbian and then being forced out of the military</li>