Sexual Trauma and Domestic Partner / Intimate Partner Violence are experienced by both men and women, and perpetrators may be of the same or opposite gender. Trauma of a sexual or intimate nature may serve as a barrier to getting help and services. Veterans may have experienced these traumas either while in or outside of their military service. We want Veterans and their families to know that you are not alone, and that we stand ready to assist survivors of trauma and violence with the care, compassion, and resources they deserve.
Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
The term “military sexual trauma” (MST) refers to sexual assault or harassment experienced during military service. MST includes any sexual activity that you are involved with against your will. Examples include:
- Being pressured or coerced into sexual activities, such as with threats of negative treatment if you refuse to cooperate or with promises of better treatment in exchange for sex
- Someone having sexual contact with you without your consent, such as when you were asleep or intoxicated
- Being physically forced to have sex
- Being touched in a sexual way that made you uncomfortable
- Repeated comments about your body or sexual activities
- Threatening and unwanted sexual advances
Anyone can experience MST, regardless of gender. Like other types of trauma, MST can negatively affect a person’s mental and physical health, even many years later. You may have disturbing memories or nightmares, difficulty feeling safe, feelings of depression or numbness, problems associated with alcohol or drugs, feeling isolated from others, problems with anger or irritability, issues with sleep, or physical health problems.
Men and women who have experienced MST may want to learn more about the effects of their experiences in their lives, or seek treatment and compensation to help them cope with these impacts. We are here to support you in whatever way will help you best. Below are links to helpful information and resources:
Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPRO) - If you are still in the military, you have the right to be treated with fairness and respect for your dignity and privacy. Options for reporting your experience and receiving physical and mental healthcare are available to you. Servicemembers can call the DoD’s Safe Helpline at 877-995-524 or click here for live chat.
New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program - If you are part of the New York National Guard, you can access services including advocacy, medical care, counseling and other benefits for incidents from any time in your life. If you experienced a sexual assault while in duty status, you may also be eligible for a restricted or unrestricted Line of Duty determination.
Vet Centers - Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services. Any Veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive free counseling regardless of gender or era of service. Vet Centers are located across New York State.
VA Healthcare - The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs provides free treatment for any physical or mental health conditions related to a Veteran’s experience of MST. No documentation of the MST experience or VA disability compensation rating is required. Some Veterans can receive this free MST-related care even if they are not eligible for other VA care. Every VA health care facility has an MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues and who can assist Veterans in accessing care; just ask for this individual when seeking care.
VA Service Connected Compensation - If you have experienced MST or suffer from any conditions related to your military service, we welcome you to talk with one of our Veterans Benefits Advisors to file a claim. Please call our Help Line at 1-888-838-7697 (VETSNYS) to set up an appointment.
Sexual Trauma Resources
Sexual trauma and violence can happen to anyone, and can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on a survivor. These effects aren’t always easy to deal with, but with the right help and support they can be managed. Resources and support are available for Veterans, family members, and others who have experienced any kind of trauma or violence of a sexual nature at any time during their lives.
National Sexual Assault Hotline - Call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) to talk with an expert about your experience at the National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN. The hotline provides:
- Support finding a local health facility that is trained to care for survivors of sexual assault and offers services like sexual assault forensic exams
- Someone to help you talk through what happened
- Local resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery
- Referrals for long term support in your area
- Information about the laws in your community
- Basic information about medical concerns
New York Rape Crisis Centers - Call the NYS Sexual Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906 to be connected to your local rape crisis center (available 24/7/365) or visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center website at nsvrc.org. New York State Department of Health-approved rape crisis centers provide free and confidential services for sexual assault victims, survivors, and their close family and friends. Services at most centers will provide information about sexual assault, referrals to community service providers, crisis intervention and ongoing support, medical and legal advocacy, and community awareness resources.
Domestic Violence Resources
Domestic Violence (DV) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) are experienced at high rates within military and Veteran communities, and it can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or relationship status. Domestic violence is much more than physical abuse, and can also include emotional, psychological, financial and sexual abuse. Ultimately it constitutes a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. If you think you are experiencing DV/IPV, please reach out to discuss this with an expert who can help you find a path to safety.
Military Reporting Options - If you are in the military, you have options to report your situation and seek support through your installation’s Family Advocacy Program. FAP supports servicemembers and their families impacted by domestic abuse, and promotes safety through early identification of unhealthy relationship patterns and reporting abuse.
VA Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Assistance Program - Many Veterans and their partners are affected by concerns about their intimate relationships. Military experiences, such as deployment, mental health concerns, traumatic brain injury, substance use, and transition to civilian life, can have a significant impact on relationships. VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program helps Veterans and their families who are impacted by physical, emotional, and sexual violence regardless of whether it has happened once or many times. Each VA Medical Center has an IPV Assistance Coordinator you can contact; the directory is here.
National Domestic Violence Hotline - If you think you may be experiencing DV/IPV, or you suspect someone you care about is experiencing DV/IPV, call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) 24/7/365 to talk confidentially with an expert to seek resources or information, or question unhealthy aspects of your relationship.
New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) - New York State provides information and resources for those who may be experiencing DV/IPV, or those who may be concerned that someone they know is experiencing DV/IPV. OPDV also provides guidance on New York State laws and policies supporting DV/IPV victims in attaining victim services, counseling services, voting information, unemployment and health insurance, terminating a rental lease, no-fault divorce, and information related to finding safety and support.
Find Support in Your County - The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides a comprehensive directory of services by county, including domestic violence shelters, safe homes and safe dwellings, hotline assistance, information, referrals, counseling, advocacy, community education, and outreach services.
Crime Victim Resources
Sexual violence, sexual harassment, and Domestic Violence / Intimate Partner Violence are not only serious public health issues--they are also under-reported crimes. Sexual assault victims have a Bill of Rights and DV/IPV victims are encouraged to seek safety and legal and law enforcement support. Further support is available:
Direct Services for Crime Victims - The New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS) provides compensation to crime victims for unreimbursed crime-related expenses. The office also assists crime victims and their families to access resources and navigate the criminal justice system in seeking justice against offenders. Find your local Victim Assistance Program here.
New York State Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) - The New York State Department of State provides substitute addresses for victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking and sexual offenses through ACP. Other people living in the same household with the victim may also be eligible. This address can be used as an official address for court petitions, driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, traffic tickets, unemployment insurance, school records, library cards, and applications for services such as public assistance.
Awareness of Offenders - The NYS Sex Offender Registry reports on the location of individuals who have committed offenses of a sexual nature through the NY-ALERT system. The Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) program provides crime victims as well as all other New Yorkers with information relating to sentence and release date of persons serving sentences in state prison.
If you need assistance, or just want to learn more about the benefits and services you may be eligible for, schedule an appointment with one of our Veterans Benefits Advisors, all Veterans themselves.
- Call 1-888-838-7697 to speak to an advisor.
- Schedule a phone or video consultation online.
- Use our search to find a Services Office near you.