By Jueseppi B.
Allegations of sexual assaults at the academies! Has the military’s response been a “Betrayal of Trust?”
Forget the creepy guys in trench coats — the Penn State University and the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals remind us that it’s harder than you might imagine to identify sex offenders inside institutions. Put that perpetrator in military uniform or clerical apparel and we want to deny it is even possible. Be it renegades, robes or uniforms, rape is the betrayal of trust manifest.
U.S. servicewomen are more likely to be sexually assaulted by a solider than they are likely to be killed in the line of fire. The new battlefield is the barracks.
The 2010 Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military indicates that 3,158 cases were officially reported. A Department of Defense survey of active duty members revealed that only 13.5 percent of sexual assaults within the services were reported. The Pentagon itself estimates that more than 19,000 incidents of sexual assault actually occurred in 2010, not the 3,158 officially reported.
The intense and extreme personal and social consequences that result from these brutal crimes are huge. This is not only a woman’s story, it is a man’s story. Rape is a crime of power and violence. Within the military, this is a troop welfare issue. Within society, this is human rights story.
Today military law requires that the officers directly in charge of the offenders decide how these cases are handled. This creates a clear conflict of interest and as a result, in the vast majority of sexual assault cases charges are not proffered. Only 8 percent of sexual assault cases are prosecuted and only 2 percent are convicted.
When women and men put themselves at risk to serve their country, they deserve to know that their chain of command and a grateful nation have got their backs. They deserve a basic guarantee of safety within our own Armed Forces. It is so ironic that the very forces we rely on to defend our country, and its pillar principles of freedom and equality, is the same group of forces that threatens women (and men) in its own ranks. It show what dangerous animals we are at heart.
It is not surprising that nearly 80 percent of these crimes go unreported. This is a profession, a culture and an environment in which strength, both physical and emotional, is paramount. Strength is a proxy for leadership.
Rape in any circumstance is violent, brutal and a heinous crime. In the military the effects are exacerbated. Victims are often ignored, their wounds (physical, emotionally, and spiritual) are left untended, and the psychological damage festers silently, poisoning lives. The scars, physical, emotional and professional, persist. Survivors are expected to carry on, facing their attacker on a daily basis. And each day they relive it-again and again. These crimes have robbed the survivors of their pride, confidence, esteem, dignity, physicality and voice.
Some information by author by LILY CASURA on SEPTEMBER 29, 2010:
“Military sexual trauma (“MST”) is the term that the Department of Veterans Affairs uses to refer to sexual assault or repeated, unsolicited, threating acts of sexual harassment — that occurred while the veteran was in the military.”
Some comments to orient you, the reader, to what MST survivors go through/think like:
* “While in (the Middle East) I was gang-raped by fellow soldiers. They told me if I talked they would kill me, and they would always know where to find me. I went to the MP anyway. They asked me what I expected being a female in combat…”
* “I never told anyone about the rape until I started therapy…”
* “I was very aggressive in trying to prove my ‘manhood.’ I tried in all ways to prove I was not weak and I that I was not homosexual. I did not feel like I was a real man. I carried the shame and guilt with me always. I felt I was at fault. I was weak.”
* “I have attempted suicide six times because of the rape.”
* “I spent two years attempting to track my perpetrator so I could kill him.”
Some facts and figures about Military Sexual Assault, which affects roughly equal numbers of male and female servicemembers (despite the differing percentages of those who serve.)
From a just-released Army report (August, 2010): “One of the more disturbing trends from FY 2001 â€“ FY 2009 is a clear and steady rise in the number of sexual offenses, which have essentially tripled since FY 2003.”
From the 2006 Department of Defense Survey of Active Military: Annual incidence rates of sexual harassment: 34% of women; 6% of men; for unwanted sexual contact: 6.8% of women; 1.8% of men. (Of course, anecdotally, the figures are MUCH higher.)
Other statistics from VA: “Approximately 1 in 5 female patients and 1 in 100 male patients report MST.” (Source: MST Screening Report, FY 2005.)
Total number of veterans who have reported MST in VA (2002-2008): 61,126 men and 59,690 women. (Source: HEC Eligibility Center National MST Report.)
Consequences, according to VA: “More readjustment problems after discharge; more physical health problems; more anxiety, depression and PTSD; more substance abuse; can exacerbate stress reactions to war-zone exposure.”
MST “is associated with increased risk for mental health conditions including, PTSD, depression, substance abuse disorders.” The prevalence of MST among OEF/OIF veterans is 15.1% among females;l 0.7% among males. (These statistics are typically under-reported because of shame and fear of reprisal.)
MST Consequences and PTSD:
Male Gulf War veterans: MST = 6x risk for PTSD; combat = 4x risk for PTSD;
Female Gulf War veterans: MST = 5x risk for PTSD; combat = 4x risk for PTSD;
(Source: Kang, Dalager, Mahan & Ishii, 2005.)
Among VA patients who report MST: 28.1% of women and 18.4% of men report PTSD; 45.6% of women and 28.2% men report depression; 5.9% of women and 9.5% of men report alcohol disorders; 5.2% of women and 7.3% of men report drug disorders.” (Source: Kimerling, R., Gima, K., Smith, M.W. et al., 2007.)
A veteran does NOT need to be “service-connected” nor have previously reported a sexually traumatic event to be eligible for MST services through the VA. Even veterans who do not meet general eligibility requirements for VA health care are treated for health and mental health consequences of MST (coded ‘ineligible’ or ‘humanitarian’). The veteran with a dishonorable discharge may want to consult with the local MST Coordinator.
The VA uses two questions to screen for military sexual assault:
* While you were in the military, did you receive unwanted sexual attention, such as touching, cornering, pressuring for sexual favors or verbal remarks?
* While you were in the military, did someone ever use force or threats of force or punishment to have sexual contact with you when you did not want to?
If you have been assaulted while serving, please educate yourself about the problem and go to the VA and get help. Maybe bring a trusted friend with you because the process can be difficult to navigate (VA bureaucracy not specifically MST care) “even for healthy people,” according to one veterans’ advocate.
Abuse must stop. We are all human beings. We are all connected in the human race as members of the human race. This behavior in our branches of the military must stop immediately. Not next year or even next month, but NOW.
- Panetta announces ‘special victims units’ to deal with sexual assault (stripes.com)
- April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (veteranstoday.com)
- More About Sexual Assault in the Military…A Major Cause of PTSD Among Veterans (theveteransdisabilitylawfirm.com)
- And The War Goes On…. (eyeonmodesto.com)
- Military May Be Gaslighting Sexual Assault Victims [Sexual Assault] (jezebel.com)
- Female Veterans Say Military Kicked Them Out And Classified Them As ‘Crazy’ After Reporting Sexual Assault (thinkprogress.org)
- Rape victims say military labels them ‘crazy’ (cnn.com)
- Our Military Men Beat Up on Women Soldiers, Rape Them So Why Should We Think This Does Not Happen in Foreign Countries? (bonjupatten.com)
- Women Soldiers and Sexual Assault (newyorker.com)
- Pentagon Anounces Serious Steps Combating Military Sexual Assault (lezgetreal.com)
- Support Military Sexual Assault Survivors. (casualnatural.wordpress.com)
- April Is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) (kcareyinfante.com)
- Panetta touts ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual assault (stripes.com)
Filed under: Causes, Court Room/Legal, Crime, News, War & the Military, Women's Causes Tagged: | Leon Panetta, Military sexual trauma, MST, Pentagon, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Sexual assault, United States Department of Defense, United States Department of Veterans Affairs