Disability Compensation for Women Who Suffer Sexual Trauma

Veterans Affairs (VA)

It is regrettable fact that many women veterans suffered sexual trauma while serving on active military duty.  Some are still struggling  with fear, anxiety, embarrassment, or profound anger as a result of these experiences.  A number of women have never discussed their experiences or their feelings with anyone, and they’re understandably reluctant to talk about them now. 

If you are one these women, we could like to hear from you.  We’re the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA for short.  We can’t undo the past, but we would like the chance to help you get on with your life.  We have updated our compensation and treatment programs to make them more responsive to sexually traumatized women, and we may be able to help you

How We Define Sexual Trauma

We define sexual trauma as any lingering physical, emotional, or psychological symptoms resulting from

  • A physical assault of a sexual nature
  • Battery of a sexual nature, or
  • Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is defined by law as repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.

Now that we know what sexual trauma is, let’s consider what VA can do for those who suffer from it…

Benefits Specifically Tailored for Victims of Sexual Trauma

VA offers two categories of benefits specially adapted for women veterans who experienced sexual trauma while on active duty:

  • Counseling and health care services
  • Compensation for disabilities which resulted from sexual assault, battery, or harassment

We’ll discuss both of these benefits in this brochure, but we’ll touch on counseling and health care only briefly.  You can learn more about these services in our VA pamphlet 10-114, Women Veterans Health Program: Counseling and Treatment for Sexual Trauma.

Counseling and Health Care Services

Trained professional counselors can usually help women with sexual trauma to regain their confidence, self esteem, and quality of life.  If you’re experiencing serious emotional distress because of your experiences, we urge you to contact your nearest VA Medical Center or Vet Center.  You don’t have to present proof of your traumatic experience in order to obtain counseling.

Compensation for Disabilities

Disability Compensation is a monthly payment to a veteran who is disabled by an injury or a disease incurred or aggravated on active service.  The service need not have occurred during a war; peacetime service also qualifies.  You must also have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions to be eligible.

The amount of the disability compensation payment depends on the degree of disability.  Disabilities are rated from zero to 100 percent disabling, in increments of 10.  (Compensation isn’t payable at the 0% level.)  You must be suffering from disabling symptoms to receive compensation.

Compensable Disabilities Related to Sexual Trauma

Women who suffer sexual trauma may sustain physical or psychological disabilities.  Physical disabilities are usually clear-cut medical problems which can easily be proven to relate to the sexual battery or assault, provided an examination was administered shortly after the event.

One common psychological disability is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD is recurrent emotional reaction to a terrifying , uncontrollable or life-threatening event.  The symptoms do not always develop immediately after the event; sometimes they are delayed for years.  They include sleep disturbances and nightmares, emotional instability, feelings of fear and anxiety around seemingly non-threatening situations, impaired concentration, and increased stress or problems in intimate and other interpersonal relations.

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