Military Sexual Trauma

Sexual trauma is a reality in most systems including the military. 

If you are a woman who has been sexually harassed or assaulted within your workplace by a higher-ranking boss, you have been morally injured. Betrayal within your team and by a supervisor is the worst kind of betrayal.

Initially, the betrayal such as sexual assault is obvious however over time in order for a woman to adapt to this kind of betrayal ( keep her job)  she must lose a part of herself, as well as pay a big cost to continue on in this toxic culture.

A woman in this situation is faced with two choices either blow the whistle and be forever black marked and vilified (sometimes a hero), but at a huge cost to herself or quit and end her career. There is another choice and this one requires you to ” suck it up,” push it down and move on. However, over time the price of pushing this kind of harassment becomes too toxic and eventually, her mental health fails and she needs to leave. 

When a woman works under a colleague who is higher ranking in a position of authority regardless of sexual orientation, that boss is in a position of power that can be used against her or harm her. This is why being in a sexual relationship with a subordinate is wrong. Put another way it’s a power imbalance. 

Some women and men are manipulated into a sexual relationship by their superiors however even if a woman or a man consents to a sexual relationship this does not make the relationship any less harmful to the person who is a subordinate.

Women who serve whether it be in the military or in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police do so because they believe in the values and principles of serving their community and country. A superior that takes advantage of this is probably the worst kind of betrayal. 

Thankfully social media has been a very positive influence in increasing awareness of why sexual assault/rape is a crime. Today more than ever before in history women are coming forward, standing up and demanding a safe workplace. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in your workplace or sexually assaulted in your workplace you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress injuries.  EMDR can be very helpful for treating these symptoms. It’s important to reach out rather than isolate, especially if you are suffering from symptoms of intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or nightmares. Please remember that you are not alone. 

Crystal Arber is a registered social worker and registered clinical counsellor. She is a certified EMDR therapist and an EMDRIA-approved EMDR Consultant, She works with First Responders, Canadian Forces, and Veterans. She uses EMDR to help desensitize triggers and post-trauma symptoms. She also provides a safe place to talk about what has happened and how to overcome this experience.