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The association of exposure to military sexual trauma and romantic relationship satisfaction among partnered men service members/veterans: The influence of compulsive sexual behavior

APA Citation:

Blais, R. K. (2021). The association of exposure to military sexual trauma and romantic relationship satisfaction among partnered men Service members/Veterans: The influence of compulsive sexual behavior. Family Process. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12623

Abstract Created by REACH:

The current study examined how experiencing a military sexual trauma (i.e., unwanted/ uninvited sexual attention or assault during military service) may be related to poorer romantic relationship satisfaction through sexual dysfunctions, including erectile dysfunction and compulsive sexual behavior (i.e., the inability to control frequent sexual urges and activities). Data from 499 men Service members and Veterans were utilized for this study, 64 of whom reported experiencing a military sexual trauma. Compulsive sexual behavior, but not erectile dysfunction, appears to be a mechanism through which experiencing a military sexual trauma is associated with poorer relationship satisfaction.



Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member


Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Cross-Sectional Study
quantitative Study


Blais, Rebecca K.


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.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

John Wiley & Sons

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Psychology, Utah State University, RKB


relationship satisfaction, military sexual trauma, sexual dysfunction, service members, Veterans

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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