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Are survivors of military sexual trauma more prone to illness?

Howard Fradkin, PhD
Psychology

What is important to be aware of is that survivors of military sexual trauma face tremendous stress after their assault. For one, they are very unlikely to report the abuse, meaning they must live with tremendous shame, oftentimes guilt, feelings of inadequacy, and the betrayal that someone who they were supposed to be able to trust violated that trust. Both men and women in the military are sexually abused, and the shame is horrendous for both, especially given the training they receive they are supposed to be tough, strong, and team players. And if a survivor gets the courage to report the abuse, the likelihood of any significant justice being done is slim; usually perpetrators walk free, whereas the survivor is left with the trauma that can live inside them for decades. What we also know is that healing from sexual trauma, no matter what the emotional and physical illnesses are, is absolutely possible, when the personnel can get professional help and support.

Unfortunately, studies suggest that survivors of MST report increased frequency of illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes and hypertension. They also have an increased risk of chronic lung disease, infertility and miscarriage.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.