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Glossary of Terms

Military sexual trauma (MST)

General public and academic definition

  • MST is currently not listed as a diagnosis in the DSM-5-TR or ICD-11.
  • MST refers to any sexual or sexualized activity that occurs without the person’s consent, during their service as a member of the CAF, and the physically or psychologically traumatic impacts of this activity on the affected person. The spectrum of MST can vary from small impact to severe disorders.
  • Examples of sexual or sexualized activities without the person’s consent or where the person is unable to consent include (but are not limited to):
    • Taking part in sexual activities because of coercion or threat (such as threats to a person’s physical safety, reputation, or career progression, or threats of other negative treatment, if the person refuses to comply)
    • Any coercive situation where expectation of, participation in, or tolerance of, unwanted sexual experiences is used as a basis for work assignment or promotion decisions
    • Any situation involving comments, unwanted touching, grabbing, or sexual advances, including hazing activities or rituals
    • Sexual contact or activities while sleeping, unconscious, or any other circumstance where the person’s capacity to consent is impaired by drugs or alcohol
    • Sexualized comments or displays of pornographic or demeaning materials in the workplace
    • Repeated unwelcome requests for a sexual relationship
    • Witnessing any of the examples of sexual or sexualized activities in this list
    • Any unwanted sexual activity or display that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment.
  • Examples of MST impacts on the affected person include (but are not limited to):
    • Disturbed sleep or nightmares
    • Feeling sad or depressed
    • Disturbing memories of re-experiencing the event
    • Difficulty feeling safe
    • Feeling numb or without emotion
    • Feeling guilt or shame, anger or rage
    • Problems in work (such as reduced productivity, conflict with coworkers)
    • Problems in intimate relationships, and difficulty parenting
    • Problems with alcohol or drugs
    • Physical injuries or pain conditions, and
    • Reluctance to report for duty or to wear their uniform.

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