Sexual Assault In The Military

2142 Words 9 Pages
Sexual assault is “defined as unwanted physical sexual contact and includes behaviors ranging from unwanted touching of a sexual nature to coercive or nonconsensual vaginal, anal, or oral penetration (rape)” (Bell, Turchik, & Karpenko, 2014, p. 25). The health implications of sexual assault have been found to be significant in civilian populations. A history of sexual assault has been associated with poorer physical health outcomes, including chronic pain, gynecological symptoms, and gastrointestinal difficulties (Golding, 1999). Sexual assault has additionally been shown to predict mental health outcomes, including increased prevalence of depressive symptoms, anxious symptoms, and substance use (Burnam et al., 1988). Due to the unique environment …show more content…
For example, the general acceptance of violence and the permeation of sexualized and violent language in the military may promote sexual violence. The emphasis on the use of violence to complete a mission or a goal in combat may be generalized by military members to how they meet their personal needs. As touched on previously, due to the hierarchical structure of the military, the commanding officer of a unit sets the precedent for their unit. When a commanding officer is indifferent or does not respond to abuse, it can be difficult for survivors to report their sexual assault experiences since current military procedures require reports to be first given to the commanding officer (Turchik & Wilson, 2010). All these factors may play a role in the levels of stress a MSA survivor faces and in the level of perceived support they report. This is of importance as it has previously been found that lack of social support and increased social isolation has negative effects on health (Kawachi & Berkman, …show more content…
Many of the articles currently in the literature study female military personnel and veterans, despite the fact that men and women in the military have been shown to experience MST almost equally (Suris & Lind, 2008). As discussed above, differences have been shown in physical and mental health outcomes, but more research is needed to have a broader picture of these differences. The nature of the military institution has unique features that have been shown to influence the effects of sexual assault. Survivors in the military may have increased levels of and closer exposure to their perpetrator since the environment requires service members to live and work with each other. Along with this, the strong emphasis the military puts on teamwork and loyalty to your fellow service member and unit is directly violated for a survivor in the military. These features may expose an MSA survivor to chronic stress and increased negative health outcomes. In conclusion, it is of importance for clinical professionals to be aware of the multifaceted effects of sexual assault on military personnel. As more research and attention is devoted to the topic, especially with increased integration of women into the military institution, the health care industry must be aware of the factors discussed here that influence treatment for these

Related Documents