The Association of Exposure to Military Sexual Trauma and Romantic Relationship Satisfaction Among Partnered Men Service Members/Veterans: The Influence of Compulsive Sexual Behavior

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Abstract

Civilian literature shows a strong, consistent association between exposure to sexual violence and poor romantic relationship satisfaction. The impact of sexual violence that occurred during military service, or military sexual trauma (MST), on romantic relationship satisfaction among partnered men service members/veterans (SM/Vs) is understudied. However, a recent study conducted in women observed that MST that involved an assault was associated with poorer relationship satisfaction through higher sexual dysfunction and lower sexual satisfaction. The current study extended the literature by examining sexual function as a mediator of the association of exposure to MST and romantic relationship satisfaction among partnered men SM/Vs (N = 499). Participants completed self-report measures of MST exposure, romantic relationship satisfaction, erectile dysfunction, and compulsive sexual behavior, as well as a demographic inventory. The average score on relationship satisfaction was in the distressed range. Sixty-four participants (12.83%) reported MST exposure. MST exposure was related to lower relationship satisfaction through higher compulsive sexual behavior. The model explained 16% of the variance in relationship satisfaction. The indirect effect of erectile dysfunction was nonsignificant. Current findings are consistent with research in women SM/Vs: the association of MST and romantic relationship satisfaction appears to be indirect, through the effects of sexual function. Couples’ therapy may be most effective if it addresses sexual health concerns among men MST survivors, particularly engagement in compulsive sexual behaviors. Due to low endorsement of MST that involved assault, the impact of MST severity could not be examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamily Process
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Men
  • Military Sexual Trauma
  • Relationship Satisfaction
  • Service Members
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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