Study: Distress Greater for Male Victims of Military Sexual Harassment

Results from a new study found that the adverse effects of sexual harassment in the military may be worse for men than women. The research involved 19,000 servicemembers, more than 9,000 of which were men. Of all the servicemembers, more than 6,300 men and women experienced sexual harassment in the past year.

Of these 6,300 service members, 28 percent were men. And in 52 percent of the cases for men, sexual harassment involved another man. For women, 86 percent of the sexual harassment involved a man.

The participants answered questions about the incident through a survey. One of the topics addressed was how frightened he/she was by the experience and its impact afterward. Women described feeling frightened more often than men. But the men felt more distress, which affected job performance and caused physical and/or emotional problems.

For both genders, when sexual harassment involved a higher-ranking officer it caused the most distress. This was the situation for women in 68 percent of the cases and in 46 percent for men.

Researchers suggest two reasons that men may have more difficulty dealing with sexual harassment. One is that it’s not expected to happen, which could trigger an intense reaction. The other is that women know the possibility of sexual harassment exists. As a result, they are better prepared for it when it does occur.

The VA defines Military Sexual Trauma (MST) as repetitive, threatening sexual harassment or sexual assault. Disability benefits aren’t available for the trauma itself. But they could be if it results in a serious health problem. Anxiety disorders, substance abuse, depression and post-traumatic stress disorders are examples.

Contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group to learn about eligibility. We can assist with gathering evidence that proves injuries or can assist with filing an appeal for a denied claim.