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Perceptions of Male Military Sexual Trauma Victimization

McClain MP, Cretzmeyer MT, Young LB, Mengeling M, Reisinger HS, Torner J, Booth BM, Sadler AG. Perceptions of Male Military Sexual Trauma Victimization. Poster session presented at: AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting; 2011 Jun 12; Seattle, WA.


This qualitative study sought to identify the perceptions of Reserve and National Guard (R/NG) service men toward the subject of sexual assault of male service members (military sexual trauma:MST), particularly within the context of deployment A total of seven focus groups were held with male R/NG service men (still serving and former members, N = 20). Groups were stratified by Officer/Enlisted personnel. Following transcription of audio-recorded groups, the research team developed a coding dictionary of relevant themes. Twenty-nine percent of the transcripts were independently coded by two researchers. Agreement between coders was 90% or better for the majority of themes/codes. Remaining transcripts were coded by one of the two trained researchers and entered into NVivo 8.0 for data management/analysis. R/NG service-men expressed limited recognition that male MST actually occurs ("Men being raped?...hey, this is something that needs to be brought forward right now. Not later, but right now"). Attitudes and military norms were presented that characterized the male victims as partially to primarily responsible for their assault(s) and lack of self-protection ("You didn't defend yourself; you didn't do what you could to protect yourself?"). Reserve troops faced deployment challenges and barriers to reporting victimization as well as being marginalized by active duty members. National Guard troops reported facing additional barriers to reporting MST due to their citizen-soldier status. Rank and being male in general were also identified as complicating factors (".because knowing that a male is less likely to say what happened to's going to be seen as.subordination.when really it is something deeper"). Other themes focused upon the perceived individual, structural, and cultural factors involved with male MST victimization. Male MST victimization appears to be a phenomenon not immediately thought of as a deployment consideration. Military and cultural norms and marginalization of victims create barriers to reporting and seeking needed care. DoD and VA health care providers are encouraged to directly assess MST and also recognize that males might not acknowledge victimization. Providers must be educated about military cultural norms toward male MST to understand the shame and secrecy involved and to promote male Veteran's feeling of safety in seeking treatment.

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