What Are You Doing in Recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

Military sexual violence and trauma is often referred to as the unspoken epidemic among service members and veterans. Sexual violence can look very different in a military setting, and it’s important for behavioral health providers and the public-at-large to understand the context of the assault and unique treatment considerations.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we’re taking action by educating behavioral health providers who work with veterans about unique circumstances in the trauma they have experienced.

In our upcoming webinar, “Useful Strategies and Restorative Practices in the Treatment of Trauma among Veterans,” Elizabeth Stinson of the Trauma Assessment Project will present useful strategies and restorative practices in the treatment of trauma, including circumstances unique to military sexual trauma, co-morbidity symptom awareness and clinical diagnosis, impact on survivors, as well as family systems, and how to establish a system of care for survivors.

These webinars are open to the public; click here to register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7753350636805930497

What are some unique circumstances of military sexual assault?

  • Survivors of military sexual assault must often continue to work with their perpetrators, who may frequently be in their unit or in their chain of command.
  • Reporting rape may be a perceived threat to unit cohesion where they rely on others to be “service members in arms.”
  • 62% of survivors who reported being sexually assaulted also reported that they experience retaliation.
  • Reporting the assault means it must go up the chain of command, and commanders have discretion in deciding whether there is enough evidence that the assault occurred.

What are some unique considerations in treatment?

  • Veterans may have challenges trusting and responding to treatment when working with civilian providers, who may not fully understand their experience when considering the unique military-related circumstances of the trauma. It’s important for behavioral health providers to gain an understanding of military and veteran culture, as well as unique treatment considerations when working with veterans.
  • Service members may not report the assault occurred until long after they leave the military. By that time, they are already at increased risk for other co-occurring psychological issues, as well as homelessness.

Megan Zottarelli, Policy Analyst
Megan performs research and analysis of legislation, data, and issues related to veterans such as criminal justice, housing, employment, women’s health, etc. Megan helps to create formal summaries and recommendations to lawmakers and key stakeholders to increase access to services and support for veterans and their families. She is especially interested in criminal justice issues among veterans as well as treatment alternatives to incarceration.

Feature image from http://www.ellsworth.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/807213/sexual-assault-awareness-and-prevention-month-kicks-off-with-living-display/