The devastation and trauma of being sexually abused and usually causes a lot of guilt and shame. It can be even worse when the VA denies you a claim for PTSD. Besides the guilt, you will have fear inside you that holds you back and keeps convincing you that it is not a good idea to report a sexual assault. This is most prevalent among the males who suffer military aggression. What discourages and breaks their hearts, even more, is that the perpetrators often threaten their victims and thus discourage the victim even more from reporting the attack.
Sometimes there could be no mention of your service treatment and personal records. In this instances, how are you going to prove that the assault you claim happened really took place? Usually, on cases dealing with PTSD claims for non-combat situations, the VA regulations often require the substantiation of a stressor. However, the challenge comes in in the case where you never reported the stressor or never told anybody about it probably because of fear of victimization. This makes the situation even more complicated to handle, both for you and for the VA.
There has been a myriad of sexual assault cases, which involve a situation where the rape victim held back and did not report. In fact, a majority of the cases reported to veterans’ appeals lawyer implicate MST perpetrators that are not reported anywhere by the victim and thus giving the agents a hard time.
How then would you would you prove that you were sexually assaulted in the service when you never reported the case to anyone?
Regulations claim that if a post-traumatic stress disorder claim is on account of the in-service personal attack external evidence, aside from the veteran’s sources in the service records, may validate the veteran’s account of the whole incident. Regulations further claim that if there is evidence that victim’s behavior changed after the incident, and can be proved, then it is one form of relevant evidence that can be found in the sources and used in the case.
There are a number of behavior changes that can point to sexual assault. Among such changes include when an officer requests to be transferred to another military duty or department. This strongly indicates that they are not comfortable with the environment around them and may not want to associate with certain things after the incident.
The idea behind this regulation is that most victims tend to hold back when it comes to reporting such cases. They tend to think that they will be exposing a supposed negligence or weakness should they say the case. The VA has officially recognized that the issue is extremely personal and that the victims and therefore many victims of this kind of trauma find it tough to give evidence to the authorities. This means that the VA is left with the option for looking for circumstantial evidence that would suggest the possibility of an occurrence in the service.
Take for instance in a case where a veteran was sexually assaulted in their unit. You will notice a lot of different excuses why they want to be transferred to another unit. There would be a replete of multiple requests for a transfer to a different department. The argument that can be deduced from this situation is that the many transfer requests is an indication that they are trying to escape from the perpetrator. Even though they may not mention the incident of rape, it can still be used as circumstantial evidence to corroborate the perpetrator.
In other cases, those who knew well before the service and after can come out to testify that the victim’s behavior changed drastically after the incident of the MST. In these case too, there is evidence of the changes in behavior, and this can be used to corroborate the perpetrator too. There will also be a drop in performance of the victim after the assault. You will notice that a previously hardworking veteran has suddenly changed and was gloomy with low self-esteem.
Other times, the victim’s behavior regarding getting along with others will suddenly change and worse, they may even receive Article 15 for things they would otherwise never do. The primary thought here is that the evidence will show a drastic change in social behavior after the attack, which allows a veteran’s attorney to argue that the apparent behavioral changes may implicate the stressor.
Another very typical scenario after an assault incident, the victim will tend to turn to drugs perhaps to try to drown the thoughts of dark pasts. Previously the victim may not necessarily be doing drugs or alcohol, but the mental stress involved in trying to cope with such a situation is just overwhelming. Then try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. As such, if a drastic indulgence in substance abuse is evidence pointing to sexual attack in the service.
Sometimes the victim could contract venereal diseases like HPV and much more after the rape. This is not only dangerous for the mind, but for the body too and may even lead to death. Other than this, there is other substantial evidence pointing to the direction of an assault like frequently visiting a chaplain to try and find spiritual guidance to peace of mind. Frequent pregnancy tests are also a reliable indicator of such acts. It’s because the victim may start panicking about conceiving during a sexual assault. The veteran could also break up from their primary relationship and complaints that are a physical type and that could be deep mental stress in the victim.
Further, for a West Virginia MST lawyer to come up with a strong case, they will need an expert medical opinion from a trusted psychiatrist. The therapist will need to assert that the behavioral changes, transfer requests, and sudden indulgence in the abuse of drugs is a strong indicator that there is a psychiatric stressor behind all that. Generally, a professional is required to interpret circumstantial evidence and explain that the behavior is a manifestation of underlying MST.
Even though VA can acknowledge the fact that may prove an MST, even without the evidence brought in by medical records, most of the time those claims are dismissed as the evidence doesn’t exist. As such you should not worry about VA denying your request that you were sexually assaulted. What you need to do is go back and examine your life, see how it changed and take note of unusual things that you notice. From this, you can argue that the changes in your life establish that something that jeopardized your life and your peace of mind, happened during the time you were serving. Worth noting is the fact that you are still eligible to healthcare services including canceling for medical issues related to MST. Also, your best choice would be to see a West Virginia disability lawyer to help you with your veteran’s appeal.