Psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, 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 or active duty for training.
Sexual harassment is defined as "repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.”
In more concrete terms, MST includes any sexual activity where you were involved against your will. You may have been physically forced into sexual activities. Or, no physical force may have been used but you were coerced or pressured into sexual activities. For example, you may have been threatened with negative consequences for refusing to cooperate. Or it may have been suggested that you would get faster promotions or better treatment in exchange for sex. MST also includes sexual experiences that happened while you were not able to consent to sexual activities, such as if you were intoxicated. Other MST experiences include unwanted sexual touching or grabbing, threatening, offensive remarks about your body or your sexual activities, and threatening and unwelcome sexual advances. If these experiences occurred while you were on active duty or active duty for training, they are considered to be MST.
“I remember the faces, the words, the smells, the negative, the unwarranted, unsolicited touches. I remember all of that. And I have friends who also are Veterans and went through worse than I did.”
It’s important to know that MST can occur on or off base, and while a Service member is on or off duty. Perpetrators can be men or women, military personnel or civilians, superiors or subordinates in the chain of command. They may have been a stranger to you, or even a friend or intimate partner. Veterans from all eras of service have reported experiencing MST.
If you experienced military sexual assault or harassment, you may blame yourself or feel ashamed. It is important to remember that MST is not your fault. Nothing ever justifies someone harassing or assaulting you.