Welcome to the Dog Tag, Episode 8, Season 2, a Podcast by the St. Charles County Veterans Museum.
Join us on The Dog Tag podcast as our special guest, Jane Doe (We called her Stacy), shares her experiences while serving in the military as a female soldier and her journey of healing from military sexual trauma (MST).
VA uses the term “military sexual trauma” (MST) to refer to sexual assault or sexual harassment experienced during military service. MST includes any sexual activity during military service in which you are involved against your will or when unable to say no. Examples include:
- Being pressured or coerced into sexual activities, such as with threats of negative treatment if you refuse to cooperate or with promises of better treatment
- Sexual contact or activities without your consent, including when you were asleep or intoxicated
- Being overpowered or physically forced to have sex
- Being touched or grabbed in a sexual way that made you uncomfortable, including during “hazing” experiences
- Comments about your body or sexual activities that you found threatening
- Unwanted sexual advances that you found threatening
People of all genders, ages, sexual orientations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and branches of service have experienced MST. Like other types of trauma, MST can negatively affect a person’s mental and physical health, even many years later. Things you may experience could include:
- Disturbing memories or nightmares
- Difficulty feeling safe
- Feelings of depression or numbness
- Using alcohol or other drugs to numb or escape from negative feelings
- Feeling isolated from other people
- Difficulties with anger, irritability, or other strong emotions
- Self-doubt, self-blame, or decreased self esteem
- Issues with sleep
- Physical health problems
If you are having any current difficulties related to MST, VA is here to support you in whatever way will help you best — from learning more about how MST affects people, to treatment that helps you cope with how MST is impacting your life currently, or if you prefer, treatment that involves discussing your experiences in more depth.
To listen to Jane Doe’s story, click on the link below.
For questions about treatment and health care options related to MST, talk with an MST Coordinator at a VA health care facility near you.