How Bad Is Sexual Assault in the U.S. Military? Worse than you Think!The Veterans Site
Sexual assault in the military was a taboo subject for many years, but today, U.S. Department of Defense reports and surveys are bringing this long-standing problem to light. We now know that not only is sexual assault still incredibly pervasive, but it’s actually a growing problem.
A 2012 report estimates that 26,000 service members had been victims of sexual assault in the previous year, up 7,000 from the 2011 report. The U.S. military defined sexual assault as rape, attempted rape or undesired sexual contact. Of the 26,000 estimated victims, approximately 12,100 were women and 13,900 were men. While female service members, who make up a much smaller percentage of the Armed Forces, are more likely to be victims of sexual assault than their male counterparts, the fact that more than half of the estimated victims are men shows that this is an issue that reaches across the gender line.
Estimates went down from 26,000 in 2012 to 18,900 in 2014, but Senator Kirsten Gillibrand believes that the problem is worse than the U.S. Department of Defense is reporting, citing that the Pentagon refused to share information with her about sexual assaults on certain major military bases. The fact that reported sexual assaults nearly doubled in the same timeframe also raises a red flag. Unfortunately, only a fraction of cases are reported, and very few of the reported cases go to court. According to PBS Frontline, one of the reasons for this is the chain of command. The service member’s commanding officer can intervene in a sexual assault investigation at any time.
Although the military is working hard to curb the problem through a sexual assault hotline and education initiatives, more needs to be done to ensure victims are heard and assailants are punished. Service members, regardless of gender, deserve to be treated with dignity by their fellow service members as well as their superiors. To help bring an end to sexual abuse in Veterans Affairs facilities, click here.