Military Sexual Trauma
The VA regulations speak to what is termed “personal assault”. This is an event of human design that threatens or inflicts harm. This could include a rape or a physical assault or harassment. Because of the personal nature of these types of incidents, these events are typically not officially reported and the victims of these types of assaults also may find it difficult to come forward with information. Therefore, it is critical in personal assault or military sexual trauma cases to look at alternative forms of evidence that could tend to establish that the in-service event took place. VA has an obligation to develop alternative sources of information. It is very important to note that VA must tell you what evidence other than the information found in your service records can be submitted, and to afford you the opportunity to submit such evidence.
In other words, if there is no other official documentation proving that you were assaulted in some way, then you must look to the more circumstantial evidence as a means of establishing the fact that you were assaulted in some fashion. Examples of such evidence include: records from law enforcement authorities, rape crisis centers, mental health counseling centers, hospitals or physicians; pregnancy tests or tests for sexually transmitted diseases; statements from friends and family members, roommates or other fellow soldiers. Evidence of behavioral changes after the claimed assault is also important. Behavior change evidence can include requests to transfer, deterioration in work performance, the beginnings of substance abuse, or episodes of depression or anxiety, or unexplained economic or social behavior changes. There could be many other types of evidence that could tend to corroborate that a stressor of this nature took place. If you are the victim of some type of personal assault during military service, you should know that there may be assistance available and you should be prepared to look to alternative forms of evidence to prove that this stressor took place. If you have been denied service connection for a personal or military sexual assault, it is strongly recommended that you retain competent legal counsel to assist you with your appeal. You are welcome to contact our office to discuss your situation. The call is totally confidential. We have a depth of experience in handling military sexual trauma cases.