Military Sexual Trauma (MST) refers to psychological distress that an individual experiences related to sexual harassment or sexual assault that occurs while serving in the military. This may include sexual encounters which are forced, coerced, or during which an individual is unable to consent, as well as unwanted remarks, advances, or physical contact of a sexual nature.
There is no time limit on trauma. Whether the event(s) happened three months, years, or decades ago you are eligible for support and services. Further, research suggests that the amount of time that has passed since trauma does not impact the effectiveness of treatment.
Yes. Although the rate of MST among women is higher than that of men, due to the gender makeup of the military, there are actually more men who experience MST than women. The Road Home Program provides treatment to any veteran or service member who has experienced any type of MST (e.g. sexual harassment, attempted or completed sexual assault, sexual coercion, etc).
At RHP we know that it is very rare for people to falsely disclose traumatic events. We believe survivors as a rule of thumb. The primary goal for the provider you meet with will be to listen to your story and understand how it is impacting you so we can provide the most appropriate and effective treatment to help you heal.
You will never be required to take legal action or disclose your experiences to people outside of treatment, including the VA, and RHP will not share your information without your written consent. Providers at RHP believe that it is your choice whether you would like to pursue legal action related to your experience of MST. Your provider is available to provide emotional support if you do decide to explore the option of pursuing legal action or disclosing your MST to others.
Many people experience trauma before and/or after military service or multiple traumatic events in their lifetime. Providers at RHP will work with you to address whatever difficulties you may be experiencing, regardless of when your trauma occurred.
That’s up to you. All services at the Road Home program are confidential and will not be shared with anyone, including your family, without your consent. You and your provider can discuss whether or not you want to share your experience of MST with the important people in your life, and how to approach that conversation if you do decide to disclose to them.
Services at RHP are provided regardless of discharge status or ability to pay. If you have insurance coverage, we may bill insurance to help offset the cost of treatment, but you will never be charged a co-pay. Further, you do not need to be service-connected for PTSD or other MST-related disabilities in order to receive support. If you feel your discharge status was negatively impacted by your experience of MST or you are interested in learning more about MST-related disability benefits, we can offer you emotional support and resource referrals so that you can best explore these options.
MST can impact people in different ways. Many people recover naturally from trauma, while others experience daily challenges related to the traumatic experience. If you are struggling, therapy can be a way to explore your feelings about your trauma and see if there is any connection with challenges that you’re currently facing. It’s not always obvious but MST can impact relationships, self-esteem, physical health, sleep, and many other areas of functioning.
Symptoms related to traumatic events commonly ebb and flow over time. While some individuals may be bothered by symptoms directly following their experience of MST, others do not experience these symptoms until much later. Similarly, symptoms can change with life circumstances. A variety of stressors may exacerbate symptoms, including but not limited to; major life changes, physical health changes, anniversaries, relationships, the political climate or current events.
Different types of therapy may be more helpful or effective at different times in a person’s life. Additionally, no two therapists are the same. At the Road Home Program, we make a concerted effort to match each individual client with a therapist and therapeutic approach that will be a good fit. RHP also offers different types of treatment, including traditional outpatient individual and group therapy, adjunctive treatments, and a three week intensive outpatient program for Veterans who are seeking an accelerated pace of treatment to address PTSD related to MST.
RHP offers outpatient individual and group psychotherapy; some groups are specifically for individuals who have experienced MST. Our 3 week Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) has a track specifically for individuals who have experienced MST, which is separate from those who experienced combat-related trauma. RHP also offers substance abuse counseling for individuals struggling with problematic substance use. We have services focusing on holistic wellness, such as trauma-sensitive yoga, art therapy, and nutrition consultation. For individuals with health-issues, have a number of staff who specialize in unique medical issues common among MST survivors, such as pelvic floor dysfunction and traumatic brain injury, who can provide assessment and medical care recommendations. Finally, we have psychiatrists on staff for those interested in medication as a part of their treatment.
Telehealth therapy is available for some Illinois residents who have already established care with RHP. Initial in-person appointments are required to get started. If telehealth is not an option, we can work to connect you with closer resources. We also have a satellite office in Effingham, IL. Additionally, Veterans all over the country are eligible for our 3 week Intensive Outpatient Program (if deemed appropriate during intake evaluation).