April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. Sexual assault is any sort of sexual activity between two or more people in which one of the people is involved against his or her will. Sexual assault happens to men, women, and children. The effects can range from emotional problems to depression and PTSD. Below find more information on this type of trauma and its effects.

Sexual assault also occurs in the context of war in areas under attack and in refugee camps, and among military troops. “Military sexual trauma” or MST is the term used by the VA to refer to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening acts of sexual harassment that occur during military service. Read more to understand and help with these widespread issues.

  • Rape of Women in a War Zone
    During war, brutal crimes such as rape are often committed against civilian women.
  • Military Sexual Trauma
    In both civilian and military settings, service members can experience a range of distressing unwanted sexual behaviors. These experiences happen to both women and men.

Get Help Following Sexual Assault

For Veterans with a history of MST

  • All VA care for physical and mental health conditions related to MST is free. (Service connection is not required.)
  • Every VA Medical Center has a designated MST Coordinator who can help access MST services.
  • More on getting MST help from VA.
  • DoD Safe Helpline: 1 877 995 5247 or https://www.safehelpline.org* Live Chat.

An 11 year study tracks a group of Marines since they were recruits completing boot camp at Parris Island, SC in 1997. Analyses will examine their experiences in the military, particularly MST, and whether these experiences are associated with PTSD, suicide, health-risk behaviors, or other clinical outcomes.

 For Providers


Sexual Assault and Treatment

Sexual assault may be more likely to lead to PTSD than other types of traumatic events. A large scale study suggests that the rate of PTSD following sexual assault is higher than that for combat.

Our resources on sexual assault and recovery outline the best options for treating and supporting survivors of sexual assault. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), an evidence based PTSD treatment, was developed in work with female sexual assault victims.

In addition to women, at least 10% of men in our country have suffered from trauma as a result of sexual assault. Both women and men can experience MST during their military service. All Veterans seen at VA facilities are asked about experiences of sexual trauma because we know that any type of trauma can affect a person’s physical and mental health, even many years later. Learn more:

Continuing Education
From the War Zone to the Home Front Series

This free educational series continues. Free CE/CMEs. All courses are archived online (started 2/23/2012). Register now.*

  • 4/19: Clinical Practice Guidelines & Resources for PTSD treatment
  • 4/26: Traumatic Brain Injury
  • 5/3: Prolonged Exposure & Virtual Reality Therapy for PTSD

Every Thursday 11:30 am-12:30 pm ET.
Series continues through May and covers MST.

Presented by the National Center for PTSD in collaboration with the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program.*

Find more PTSD continuing education opportunities.

Prescribing Patterns at VA

Two articles in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry highlight ongoing work at the Center to expand the use of quality evidence-based PTSD treatment.


For VA Providers


VA PTSD Case Consultation Presentation Series

3rd Tuesday of the month, 2 – 3 pm EST
4/17: Dr. Kathleen Chard on Different Models of CPT and when to Best Use Them.
Based on questions posed to the VA PTSD Consultation Program.
Email ptsdconsult@va.gov to sign up.

MST Resources


PTSD in the News


Military Sexual Trauma

  • The New York Times brings attention to MST among male Veterans. Read more*
  • One MST survivor’s recovery process. Read more*

Link Between PTSD and Violent Behavior is Weak: That is what research suggests according to a recent Washington Post article. Read more*

Please encourage others to subscribe to the PTSD Monthly Update!


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