Unfortunately, military sexual trauma (MST) remains a major challenge in the armed forces. According to statistics, tens of thousands of military members were victims of some form of military sexual harassment or assault. These alarmingly high numbers show how prominent this issue is, with most current service members likely knowing someone who has experienced this trauma. Military sexual trauma treatment is crucial for survivors to heal from the physical, emotional, and psychological scars left behind.

Tragically, victims of military sexual trauma must deal with the aftermath of their experiences, which may range from unwanted advances and sexual harassment to rape. In these instances, victims deserve nothing but the finest care. At Mending Fences in Morriston, Florida, our expertise has led to the development of a wide range of care programs for military sexual trauma victims to ensure their mental and physical health is restored.

Soldier walking in the woods

What Is Military Sexual Trauma?

Contrary to popular belief, military sexual trauma is more than assault. It encompasses a wide range of potential actions, including:

  • Repeated unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment
  • Discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation
  • Jokes of a sexual nature
  • Unwanted sexual touching
  • Witnessing sexual assault in the course of service
  • Sexual assault or rape

Individuals from many racial and ethnic backgrounds are victims of MST. Both men and women experience MST, although female veterans are more likely to be victims than men.

It is important to clarify that this type of assault can happen in various circumstances, such as during routine work at a military base or in the midst of a combat situation. The location doesn’t matter — the resulting trauma does.

What Are the Impacts of Military Sexual Trauma?

Sadly, the impacts of military sexual trauma can be severe. If left untreated, a service member who has endured this experience can see a variety of mental health challenges and physical health conditions related to the assault. Potential impacts include:

  • Mental health challenges: Victims of military sexual trauma often experience feelings of shame, guilt, doubt, or a lack of self-worth. These issues can manifest themselves in many ways, including anxiety and depression.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a common response for an individual who has endured a traumatic circumstance. Individuals with PTSD experience flashbacks, recurring or intrusive thoughts, and physical reactions to those thoughts. PTSD is one of the more common negative consequences for individuals who have experienced MST.
  • Substance use disorders (SUDs): Many MST survivors cope with their experiences by abusing certain substances, including alcohol or drugs. When this occurs, individuals must seek treatment for their substance abuse and the underlying trauma caused by their sexual assault.
  • Sexual difficulties: Even consensual activities with a trusted partner or spouse can present problems. Sexual difficulties are a common response for someone sexually assaulted or harassed.

MST affects people in many ways, and MST survivors may display some, none, or all of these symptoms. Our goal is to work with survivors to identify MST-related issues and ensure they receive services related to their experiences.

How Can the Aftermath of Military Sexual Trauma Be Treated?

Despite the significant trauma and mental health conditions that may arise from an assault, there is hope: With the right treatment, individuals who have been victims of an assault can recover and lead happy lives. Veterans may often find that VA health care provides them with the necessary services, but this isn’t always the case. Some individuals need assistance beyond what their VA health care provider can prescribe.

At Mending Fences, we specialize in veterans care and have developed numerous programs specifically designed to help our heroes recover from the invisible wounds they endured due to service to their community or their country. We’ve worked with service members in all military branches and have developed the expertise necessary to ensure that individuals receive MST-related care.

We use the latest forms of treatment to help individuals address their trauma and fully recover through physical or mental health treatment:

  • At our 400-acre inpatient facility located in Morriston, Florida.
  • In our partial hospitalization program for individuals looking for the rigor and intensive treatment provided by inpatient programming but still want to return home at the end of every day.
  • At an offsite facility for individuals in a substance use disorder program.

Therapy options include:

  • Talk therapy: Individuals can use a variety of talk therapy modalities to help them identify their behavior, thoughts, and emotions in the aftermath of an assault. These forms of therapy include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), accelerated resolution therapy (ART), and more. Different therapies work differently for different people, and we work with each individual to create a treatment plan that best reflects their unique needs and experiences.
  • Group therapy: Many individuals benefit from participating in group therapy. When facilitated appropriately, this therapy can help individuals bond over shared trauma and work together to process their emotions and develop positive coping mechanisms.
  • Family therapy: Sometimes, family members must be brought in to participate in therapy. Doing so can help create a comprehensive and supportive treatment plan for the individual in question.

It is also worth noting that intensive psychological or physical therapy isn’t the only method of recovery. Different situations require different forms of treatment, and we also offer various recreational forms of therapy, including equine-assisted therapy and music therapy.

Finally, we have developed a robust alumni network of individuals who, like you, have suffered sexual violence, sexual assault, or sexual harassment. Interested individuals can participate in these groups for support long after they have ended their formal MST treatment with us.

Get the Help You Deserve

If you or a loved one has survived military sexual trauma or experienced military sexual assault, treatment is the next step towards improved mental health, stronger relationships, and a brighter future. At Transformations Mending Fences, you can recover from your experiences. Our comprehensive, uniquely tailored treatment plan can help you recover from the emotional wounds of your military service.

Contact us today to learn how Mending Fences can help you begin the healing process.