Sexual assault reports by those in the military increased by 8 percent this year, officials told the Associated Press.
Officials said nearly 6,000 victims reported to being sexually assaulted, up from approximately 5,500 cases last year. The Pentagon recently changed the way it records sexual assault cases, and now each victim counts for one report rather than each incident, sometimes involving more than one victim, being filed as one report.
When using the previous method, there would have been about 5,400 reports by the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30); there were just over 5,000 reports at the same time last year.
An anonymous survey conducted by the Rand Corp, officials said, found that about one out of every 4 victims filed a report in 2014, a drastic jump from the one in 10 that reported in 2012. That year, the Defense Department conducted an anonymous survey that found approximately “26,000 service members said they had been the victim of unwanted sexual contact – a number that stunned officials and outraged lawmakers, trigger a barrage of congressional hearings and legislative changes.”
In 2014, however, that number decreased to about 19,000, with about 10,500 men and 8,500 women saying they had been victimised, which officials said suggested sexual assaults were declining overall.
The increase in reports of sexual assault speaks to a growing trend of victims becoming more willing to come forward and actually file reports about their abuse. Victims had previously complained that they weren’t comfortable “going to commanders to report assaults, particularly in the stern military culture that emphasizes rank, loyalty and strength.”
The survey this year found that more than 60 percent of the woman who said they had experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact said they had experienced retaliation and backlash from co-workers of fellow service members.
Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said sexual assault was a “clear threat” to men and women in the military and ordered new measures to help victims, including a review of alcohol policies, the creation of a hotline and hiring of victims’ advocates, and an expansion of sexual assault prevention training.
Hopefully, this increase in sexual assault reports will inspire other victims, both men and women, military and civilian, to come forward. Nothing will change and no progress will be made until the powers that be realize what a real and serious problem sexual assault is. It happens daily, and to people of all ages, races, economic status, and profession. No one ever deserves it, brings it on themselves, and no victims are ever to blame.