Unwanted sexual experiences and retraumatization: Predictors of mental health concerns in veterans.Psychol Trauma. 2019 Nov; 11(8):886-894.PT
Repeated exposure to traumatic events has consistently been shown to negatively impact mental health functioning; however, the role of timing of such events has received less attention. The present study evaluated the role of trauma that has occurred prior to military service, during service, and across both points in contributing to the most common and deleterious mental health concerns experienced by military personnel: posttraumatic stress, depression, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts.
Utah and Idaho National Guard personnel (n = 997) completed online self-report questionnaires of their current posttraumatic stress and depression symptoms, as well as history of potentially traumatic experiences, suicidal thoughts, and actions.
Results indicated that history of trauma across time points is associated with negative outcomes across each of these outcomes, with the exception of suicide attempts. Exploratory analyses further revealed that unwanted or uncomfortable sexual experiences (not sexual assault) is the most robust predictor of negative outcomes, with approximately 2 to 7.5 times increased risk for PTSD, depression, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts.
The present findings suggest that individuals with history of trauma prior to military service are at increased risk for developing clinically significant mental health problems if exposed to additional potentially traumatic experiences. Further, other unwanted sexual experiences appear to be particularly detrimental to mental health functioning. Potential implications for military recruitment and conceptualization of traumatic events are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).