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Can You Get Ptsd From Sexual Harassment

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Ways Sexual Harassment Damages Women’s Health

Military Sexual Trauma (MST): How to Get Service Connection

09 November 2011

The accusations of sexual harassment leveled against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain by Sharon Bialek and others have drawn attention to a common, yet sometimes under-recognized, workplace hazard.

As many as 70 percent of women and 45 percent of men have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace, said Amy Blackstone, a sociologist at the University of Maine. The most common scenario involves a harasser creating a “hostile work environment” in which a harassed person feels intimidated or uncomfortable, and can’t perform his or her job well but harassment can also involve the type of “quid pro quo” Bialek said she experienced.

Victims of sexual harassment can experience strained relationships in the workplace, but are also at risk for numerous health problems. Here are six health effects of sexual harassment:


Victims of sexual harassment can experience long-term depression, according to Blackstone. In a recent study of 1,000 youths, Blackstone found that people sexually harassed in their teens and early 20s can experience depressive symptoms into their 30s.

Many people who experience sexual harassment have feelings of self-doubt, Blackstone said. “For some people, that self-doubt turned into self-blame,” she said, and victims can feel responsible for what happened. Such self-blame may have a negative effect on mental health, including promoting feelings of depression.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Blood pressure

How Social Support Facilitates Disclosure Of Online Harassment

Scarduzio et al. found that in the balance, the personal distress of harassment can outweigh the desire to keep sensitive information private. They also found that the decision to report is impacted by anticipated social support, with participants deciding to share information with those whom they perceived would render appropriate assistance.

Accepting that sexual harassment is a serious social problem, whether it occurs on or offline, should inspire the creation of a supportive, respectful environment where survivors will feel comfortable revealing inappropriate behavior, so it can be properly addressed.


Scarduzio, Jennifer A., Shawna Malvini Redden, and Jennifer Fletcher. 2020. Everyones Uncomfortable but Only Some People Report: Privacy Management, Threshold Levels, and Reporting Decisions Stemming from Coworker Online Sexual Harassment. Journal of Applied Communication Research, November. doi:10.1080/00909882.2020.1849771.

Pharmacotherapy Treatment Options For Ptsd

Knowledge of the biological changes with PTSD has led to the development of new treatments that offer more comprehensive management of PTSD and enable patients to enjoy an improved quality of life . For example, various drug treatments have been developed to treat PTSD. There are five main goals for treating PTSD with medications, including a reduction of the core symptoms such as anxiety and flashbacks, an improvement in stress resilience, an improvement in the quality of life, and a reduction in disability and comorbidity . As Brunello et al. notes, it is important to maintain wellness and prevent relapse .

The immune system is reciprocally regulated by the neural and endocrine systems and can also be affected by PTSD . PTSD often co-occurs with various inflammatory diseases, likely due to HPA axis dysregulation affecting the immune system . Immunomodulation is therefore important to avoid this subsequent dysregulation of the immune system and this can be achieved with SSRIs such as Fluvoxamine.

Fluvoxamine has been shown to be effective in decreasing the hyperresponsiveness of the HPA axis, thereby increasing levels of interleukins and other essential immune factors . Interestingly, there is a sexual dimorphism in immune functioning, as men with PTSD were found to have an inhibited cell-mediated immunity, while women showed enhanced cell-mediated immunity . A better understanding of this is necessary and it is important to consider sexual dimorphism for immunomodulation.

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Can Mediation Be Used To Settle A Sexual Harassment Claim

Mediation is a process that allows the two sides to come together with the help of a qualified mediator to work out their own solution to the issue. Mediation focuses more on addressing inequities and behaviors and less on monetary values. Advantages of mediation include:

  • Preserving confidentiality for both parties, since mediation is a private process
  • A less costly process than the cost of a lawsuit
  • Allowing the victim to air frustrations and the accused to clarify their side of the story
  • Allowing the employee to be reinstated or promoted

There Have Been A Lot Of People Coming Forward To Say They Were Sexually Assaulted Many Years Ago Why Is This Happening

We Asked Trauma Therapists How to Deal With Triggering ...

Sexual assault is a very traumatic event in someones life. They may feel like they cant tell anyone when it happens. And they may be afraid they will not be believed. Often, people blame themselves and worry they did something to cause the assault to happen. But no one deserves to be sexually assaulted. The shame associated with sexual assault belongs to the perpetrator not to the victim/survivor.

It may take years for someone to be able to talk about their experience. Hearing others talk about what was done to them can help someone feel they are not alone. Just because someone did not tell about their experience right away does not mean it did not happen.

Hearing or reading about someone elses experience may also bring back feelings of vulnerability, however, and it is important to address those feelings. Next steps would include:

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When To Help A Hurting Colleague And How To Get Treatment

A victim of sexual harassment may ultimately want to speak out against their abuser, but its important for others to speak up, too, even ahead of the victim. If you know something, say something; but dont gossip that only escalates the problem and further endangers the victim.

When people suspect something is going on and dont speak out, the harassment evolves, says Angioni. I counsel companies and employees to go about it tactfully. If you think something is happening, don’t talk about it at the water cooler, or in front of the victim. Dont send snarky emails or texts. Talk to someone in management. Help without creating a further problem. If there is not an HR person, find a trusted supervisor. If you really cant find someone you trust, you contact the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

If you know something, say something; but dont gossip that only escalates the problem and further endangers the victim.

For the victim, speaking out may be challenging, and in some cases they may just really not be willing or able to do so. Its important that both victims and their supporters understand that while silence isnt ideal, it may be what works for the coping or healing process at the moment. But only if youre talking to a mental health professional about what is going on. This cannot be emphasized enough: If you are being sexually harassed you mustnt keep this a secret; it is literally toxic to your health.

There Are Also Things You Should Avoid Doing:

  • Dont say I cant believe that person would do such a thing. It implies you do not believe the sexual assault occurred.
  • Do not ask for details.
  • Dont try to fix it.
  • Dont minimize it.
  • Dont ask why questions. They are interpreted as blaming. Fear of being blamed is a huge part of why victims/survivors do not seek help.

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How Do I File A Va Disability Claim For Mst

Since MST is the cause of your condition, not the condition itself, you must first be diagnosed with PTSD. Be sure to visit your medical professional and be as detailed as possible about your symptoms, the frequency of those symptoms, and how they impact your day-to-day life.;

To receive a 100% rating, the VA will be looking for specific details to determine you are fully disabled.;

Next, you will need your nexus letter from the medical professional. This is the letter that explains how your PTSD is linked to MST. Remember, the specific proof isnt necessary but the note must explain how it is more likely than not that your PTSD was caused by the traumatic event you experienced.;

Finally, its time to gather and submit the evidence necessary to substantiate your claim. As discussed earlier in this article, the linking of PTSD to MST now has a relaxed standard regarding specific evidence as MST can be difficult to prove definitively. This is where it will be important to record all the markers discussed earlier and submit them in your claim. This is where it will be helpful to gather as many buddy letters as possible from those who knew you before and after the event. Whether family, friends, or fellow service members, they will be able to testify to the markers theyve noticed since your trauma occurred. These letters can greatly help substantiate your claim.;

In conclusion, when filing your claim for MST, ensure that you have:

How Is Someones Mental Health Affected After An Assault

Coping strategies for sexual assault survivors

Sexual assault can affect someones mental health, either short-term or long-term. This can lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD and even suicidal feelings. Patients who have a history of a mental illness may be even more adversely affected.

If someone who has been sexually assaulted already has a therapist, it is a good idea for them to make an appointment with them. I also recommend Ramsey County SOS Sexual Violence Services as being a great resource when it comes to finding a therapist who is knowledgeable of the dynamics of sexual assault. It is a good idea to stay connected with an advocacy agency after sexual assault, as feelings may continue to come up months or even years later as a person heals.

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You Should Expect An Uphill Battle When Filing For Workers’ Comp Based On Ptsd But First Responders May Have An Easier Time Getting Benefits In Some States

By Aaron Hotfelder, J.D., University of Missouri School of Law

Most people think of post-traumatic stress disorder in connection with soldiers who’ve been in combat. But people can develop PTSD after other kinds of trauma as well, including traumatic events at work. If you’re suffering from PTSD because of your job, you may be wondering if you can get workers’ compensation benefits. The answer largely depends on where you live and the nature of the event that caused your symptoms.

Legions Of #metoo Victims

The problem itself is enormous. Among a nationally representative sample of about 2,000 adults polled by the nonprofit Stop Street Harassment ;earlier this year, an estimated 81 percent of women said they had faced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetimes. More than half of them reported having been touched or groped against their will, while 27 percent had been directly assaulted. SSH;founder and study author Holly Kearl, an expert on gender-based violence, characterizes this constant harassment, characterizes this constant harassment as a pervasive problem that permeates all sectors of our lives.

Most women have known the chilling effects of harassment firsthand. Many minimize threats by routinely altering their daily lives, from crossing a street to avoid catcalls to moving to a safer address. But a surprising number of women face genuine bodily harm.

A 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data brief found that the percentage of U.S. women who encounter some kind of sexual violence is 43.6 percent, with nearly 52.2 million experiencing some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetimes. In any given year, more than 300,000 rapes are reported in the United States, says the;.

That may explain why the nonprofit PTSD United estimates that 1 in 9 women in the United States, or slightly more than 11 percent, develop;PTSD. That makes women about twice as likely as men to experience this acute stress response.;

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Conditions Associated With Ptsd

PTSD is not the only mental health disorder that may develop after a sexual assault. PTSD is also associated with the following mental health conditions. The risk for these disorders may be greater for people who have experienced a sexual assault at a younger age.

  • Intense premenstrual symptoms
  • Non-epileptic seizures

Additionally, people who are victims of sexual victims of attempted or completed rape are at an increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. This could lead to additional physical and emotional health problems.

How Does Ptsd Develop

PTSD What is it and do I have it?

All people with PTSD have personally experiencedâor have experienced through othersâa traumatic event that caused them to fear for their lives, see horrible things, and feel helpless. Strong emotions caused by the event create changes in the brain that may result in PTSD.

Many people who go through a traumatic event don’t get PTSD. It isn’t clear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t. How likely you are to get PTSD depends on many things. These include:

  • How intense the trauma was.
  • If you lost a loved one or were hurt.
  • How close you were to the event.
  • How strong your reaction was.
  • How much you felt in control of events.
  • How much help and support you got after the event.

Having a history of mental illness, substance use disorder, or childhood trauma may also increase your risk of getting PTSD.

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. About half of people who develop PTSD get better at some time. But other people who develop PTSD always will have some symptoms.footnote 2

If you have symptoms of PTSD, counselling can help you cope. Your symptoms don’t have to interfere with your everyday activities, work, and relationships. It is never too late to get professional help or other forms of support that can help you manage the symptoms of PTSD.

Reminders and anniversaries of the event can make symptoms worse.

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The Aftermath Of Rape And Sexual Trauma

Sexual violence is shockingly common in our society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , nearly 1 in 5 women in the U.S. are raped or sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, often by someone they know and trust. In some Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries, that figure is even higher. And sexual assault isnt limited to women; many men and boys suffer rape and sexual trauma each year.

Regardless of age or gender, the impact of sexual violence goes far beyond any physical injuries. The trauma of being raped or sexually assaulted can be shattering, leaving you feeling scared, ashamed, and alone or plagued by nightmares, flashbacks, and other unpleasant memories. The world doesnt feel like a safe place anymore. You no longer trust others. You dont even trust yourself. You may question your judgment, your self-worth, and even your sanity. You may blame yourself for what happened or believe that youre dirty or damaged goods. Relationships feel dangerous, intimacy impossible. And on top of that, like many rape survivors, you may struggle with PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Need Help With Your Va Claim For Ptsd Caused By Mst

MST is a terrible reality for many veterans. It is a persistent problem and the effects this trauma has on its victims is still far from being fully understood.;

While PTSD is one of the main conditions caused by MST, it can also cause depression, anxiety, and a number of other conditions. Today the VA is working better than ever with victims of MST to get them the benefits they deserve. If youd like further help with your claim, the team here at VA Claims Insider would be happy to assist you.;


You are not alone! We are Veterans helping Veterans!Become an Elite Member and work with our Veteran Coaches to get the rating you deserve!;

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Can You Get Service

The VA does not pay benefits for MST on its own. But if the traumatic event leads to PTSD, or to other disabling conditions, then you may be able to get VA disability compensation for that. You must demonstrate a service connection to the PTSD and/or other disabling conditions in order to receive benefits.

What Evidence Do I Need To Prove Mst

PTSD Symptoms After My Sexual Assault and How I Deal with Them

Most survivors are very unlikely to have any documentation showing that the sexual assault or harassment occurred. There is a significant stigma against reporting such assaults, and because assaults are often are not reported right away, the military has often taken no disciplinary action at all against those who perpetrated these assaults. This often means there is no record at all of what happened.

The VA understands this and does not require that service medical records contain proof of the assault or harassment.

Other forms of proof of the incident that will be accepted include:

  • police records and/or records from rape crisis centers
  • pregnancy tests or tests for sexually transmitted diseases
  • statements from your friends in service, family members, counselors, or clergy, or
  • journals or diaries that you kept at the time of the trauma.

Proof of behavioral changes will also be accepted, such as:

  • documentation that you requested a transfer
  • evidence of a drug or alcohol problem
  • changes in job performance and/or changes in your social or economic behavior for which there is no other explanation
  • incidents of depression or anxiety for which no other cause has been identified.

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Why Most Victims Never Acknowledge What Happened

Sexual assault is the fourth most common crime against women in India. According to Asiatimes, a female in India is raped every fifteen minutes. Some of the cases are reported while others fail to ever make it to justice. It is also noticed that many times the assaulter is somehow related to the victim.

In some cases, the assault is so brutal that the victims never make it to life.

Incidents like these are disturbing and traumatizing and sometimes the victims are in denial to accept that something like this has happened to them.

There have been numerous cases where the assaulter is a family member and more than half of such cases are never recorded in the name of family pride.

Why women never acknowledge that they have been assaulted may have plenty of reasons, the first being shame. Sexual trauma is associated with the high social stigma. Most women feel embarrassed to narrate what happened or they feel that their character would be assassinated. They may be afraid of being criticized or slut-shamed or looked down upon. They may also try to avoid talking about sexual assault in any context, theyll withdraw themselves from conversations trying to avoid remembering or talking about what happened with them because it causes emotional pain.

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