Power over Victims: Sexual Assault in the Military

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On the 28 of april, 2004, CBS broadcast photos taken by american soldiers of iraqi prisoners in various presuming positions

They were taken at Baghdad correctional facility

Rumors about Sexual assault at this facility had been circulating for months before their exposé

People and the media were shook that female officers have partaken in the sexual abuse of the Iraqi soldiers, Wail also feeling uncomfortable by the fact that the victims were not the usual (women) and focused more on male victims and female perpetrators

The Iraqi soldiers describe the women abusers as not only inhumane but merciless compared to the men

When The women were asked to explain the reason for their sexual abuse their very womanliness of the perpetrator sexualize their actions making them apper pornagraffic

One of the female assalents became an intriguingly attractive dominatrix

“ they put bags over our heads and they kept beating us and calling us bad names after they remove the sandbags they stripped as naked as a newborn baby they ordered us to hold our penises and stroke it... they started to take photographs as if it were a porn movie and they treated us like animals not humans. They kept doing this for a long time. No one showed us Mercy. Nothing but cussing and beating… him specialist Charles Greiner and two other short female soldiers and the black soldier when we were naked he ordered us two-stroke acting like we were masturbating and then we started to do that he would bring another inmate and sit them down on his knees in front of the penis and take photos which looks like the inmate was putting the penis in his mouth. Before that I felt someone was playing with my penis with a pen...

Three Men and two women.

These pictures became so popular that women posted pictures of themselves captioned “lynndie”(the name of one of the female perpetrators)sticking a cigarette or pen in their mouth and allowing it to hang slightly below and horizontal. till your upper body slightly forward but lean back on your right leg making a hitchhiking gesturing your right hand and extending your right arm so that it's roughly the same position as if you were holding a rifle keeping your left arm slightly bent pointing in the direction of the victim and smile

Men harass women not necessarily because they find them attractive rather they find the existing power differentials attractive

Woman perpetrators:


Anita hill

Senator Howell Heflin (D-Alabama): Are you a scorned woman?

Anita Hill: No.

Senator Howell Heflin: Are you a zealot civil rights believer?

Anita Hill: No, I do not have that kind of complex. I do not like all of the attention that I am getting.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania): Do you have anything to gain by coming here? Has anyone promised you anything by coming forth with this story now?

Anita Hill: I have not gained anything, except knowing that i came forward and did what I felt that I had an obligation to do, and that was to tell the truth... After approximately 3 months of working [with Thomas at the Department of Education], he asked me to go out socially with him. What happened next and telling the world about it are the two most difficult things, experiences of my life. It is only after a great deal of agonizing consideration and a number of sleepless nights that I am able to talk of these unpleasant matters to anyone but my close friends. I declined the invitation to go out socially with him, and explained to him that I thought it would jeopardize what at the time I considered to be a very good working relationship

...I belov then, as now that having social relationships with a person who was supervising my work would be ill advised. I was very uncomfortable with the idea and told I believed then, as now, that having a social relations 1 thought that by saying 'no' and explaining my reasons, my employer would abandon his social suggestions. However to my regret, in the following few weeks he continued to ask me out on several occasions. He pressed me to justify my reasons for saying 'no' to him. These incidents took place in his office or mine. They were in the form of private conversations, which would not have been overheard by anyone else ..My working relationship became even more strained when Judge Thomas began to use work situations to discuss sex… He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals, and films showing group sex or rape scenes. He talked about pornographic materials depicting individuals with large penises, or large breasts, individuals in various sex acts. On several occasions Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess. Because I was extremely uncomfortable talking about sex with him at all, and particularly in such a graphic way, I told him that I did not want to talk about these subjects. I would also try to change the subject to education matters or to nonsexual personal matters, such as his background or his beliefs. My efforts to change subject were rarely successful...The comments were random, and ranged from pressing

me about why I didn't go out with him, to remarks about my personal appearance. I remember him saying that someday would have to tell him the real reason that I wouldn't go out with him. He began to show displeasure in his tone and voice and his demeanor in his continued pressure for an explanation. He commented on what I was wearing in terms of whether it made me more or less sexually attractive When I informed him that I was leaving [my job], I recall that his response was that now I would no longer have an excuse for not going out with him. I told him that I still preferred not to do so. [When I left my job]. .he made a comment that I will vividly remember. He said that if I ever told anyone of his Peppa Peppabehavior that it would ruin his career. This was not an apology, nor was it an explanation.

See appendix for additional excerpts from Anita Hill's testimony

Police byas:

Campus Sexual Assault Victims Unit is trying to fix the way cops handle sexual violence among college students with how they talk with listen to survivors.

the first one was organized in 2015 police officers have learned to doubt victims credibility from their senior officers because the learn from there seniors they are taught that the way they treat victims which is outdated

Cauz they lend their tactics in the 80’s is become proven wrong but they dont know better

Conversely police officers lack skills for interviewing sexual assault victims victims some victims female interviewers better but it’s not known whether they are more skilled victims fear they will be shamed, disbelieved, coerced, retraumatized, or dismissed

Some police officers underestimate the distress victims experience during interviews particularly in the absence of victim advocates, engage in behaviors that demoralize and discourage them officers described having no specific guidelines on which cases to pursue a reliance on rape myths determine the accuracy of reports

This may affect a victim's willingness to cooperate with criminal justice authorities

Or the quality of crime reports and the degree of secondary trauma experienced by victims there are differing views about the influence of officers’ attitudes on their ability to effectively intervene victims and the influence of attitudes on behaviors in general

Officers tend to overestimate the % of false rape reports

“Some generalizations about police culture that may be relevant to sexual assault victim interviewing include (a) law enforcement organizations are hierarchically organized and tend to be male dominated, thus the skills for developing rapport with females and subordinates are not central to the officer role... (b) apprehension of criminals is perceived as the primary task of police work Police Interviews of Sexual Assault Reporters 265 266 Rich and Seffrin and taking crime reports is viewed as more subsidiary, thus most training is focused on the former...(c) emotional detachment is prized and empathizing with victims can be viewed as a deviation from objectivity...and (d) police work is often stressful, so some officers employ a rapid-fire questioning style that leaves little time for victims to elaborate...Police officers may subject rape reporters to intense questioning regarding inconsistencies in their statements, insist they take lie detector tests, restrict their access to support persons during interviews, fail to refer them to victim advocates, compromise their confidentiality, use intimidating postures and tones, subject them to multiple interviews, or demonstrate a lack of flexibility”

Rape myth acceptance will be a significant variable in interviewing skill when

  • gender, age
  • years of police experience
  • number of recent cases
  • Rank
  • Education
  • specialized training
  • number of victims known personally are controlled

Laws and amendments:


  • 1.2 million college students in New York around 20% of undergraduate women and about 6% of undergrad men experience sexual assault
  • only about 25% of these are reported to the police due to the fear of being denied support
  • Of that 25% only about 10% of cases these sexual assault cases result in a felony charge
  • On October 9th 1991 the New York Times pulled 512 adults that their opinions of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas

The pole was placed after Hill’s testimony

  1. 37% of people thought that Anita's charges were probably false
  2. 22% were undecided
  3. 11% thought that the charges were true
  4. 13% thought that Thomas should be confirmed if the charges against him were true
  5. 26% thought that he should be confirmed if there was doubt about whether the charges were true

This pole also revealed that 40% of the women surveyed said that they had been an object of sexual advances proposition or unwanted sexual discussions from men who supervise them or who could affect their position at work

90% of the women surveyed said that they had experienced some form of sexual harassment and didn't report it

A survey conducted in 1987 and 1994 found the sexual harassment rate for women averaging 43% and 16% for men

6% of these cases have ever formally reported their harassment and about half the victim said their experience wasn't serious enough for a formal report

informal responses such as telling their harasser to stop were more frequent but of 44% of victims did nothing at all

Government data from 1994 shows harassment was greatest for women between the ages of 25 and 44 and Greater for women with more education and with higher paying positions

White women reported significantly more harassment than men 51% of Women vs 39% of men

With black people the trend was reversed 53% of Women vs 69% of men

Unmarried men and women are significantly more likely to be sexualy harassed then if they were married

Although harassment can occur in all different fields of work it is more likely to appear in small procedures of women in positions of power

firefighters, police officerscers, and CEOs

90% of harassment are men harassing women wow about 40 to 50% of harassment are men to men

While 80% of rapes are reported by white women women of color are more likely to be assaulted than white women

Asian/Pacific Islander: 6.8%

Hispanic/Latina: 11.9%


Black: 18.8%

American Indian/Alaska Native: 34.1%

Mixed Race: 24.4%

Sexual assault in K-12 educational settings against trans people of color:

Asian/Pacific Islander: 17%

Black: 15%

Native Americans: 24%

Multiracial: 18

Adult Women:

Asian/Pacific Islander: 15%

White: 24.8%

Black: 29.1%

American Indian/Alaska Native: 37.5%

Hispanic/Latinx: 23.4%

Mixed Race: 30.2%

Adult Men

Asian/Pacific Islander: 3%

White: 7.5%

Black: 12%

American Indian/Alaska Native: 12.4%

Hispanic/Latinx: 7.4%

Mixed Race: 9%

For every Black woman that reports her rape, at least 15 Black women do not report.

Approximately 60% of Black girls experience sexual abuse by age 18

According to a 2014 study, about 22% of Black women reported being raped and 41% experienced other forms of sexual violence

Black women students reported rape or sexuall assult 16.5% in a high school and 36% in a college

Approximately 7.9% of Latinas will be raped by a spouse, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend during their lifetime

Married Latinas are less likely than other women to define their experiences of forced sex as rape and end their relationship some view sex as a marital obligation between 21-55% Asian women report experiencing intimate physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime API women tend to report lower rates of rape and other forms of sexual violence than do people of color from other racial backgrounds.

Filipina women who were born in the US or immigrated before adolescence were more likely to experience physical and sexual violence compared to Filipina women born outside the US or immigrated as adults

Its estimated that 1 of 3 Native American women will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime

Native American women are 2.5 to 3.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault compared to all other races

34.1% of Native American women report rape in their lifetime

About 9 in 10 Native American Indian victims of rape or sexual assault were estimated to have had assailants who were of a different race

92% of Native American Indian girls who have had intercourse reported having been forced against their will to have sex

44% of Indian Health Service emergency rooms reported not having an accessible protocol or trained personnel in place for sexual assault

US attorneys declined to prosecute 67% of sexual abuse, homicide, and other violent crimes against Native women in 2010

As a comparison of these two statistics it's plain to see that because of the fear and byas rape case’ are severely less reported

It also shows the reason for most of the willingness to report being the low prosecution and incarceration rate

  • Individuals of college-age
  • Female Students: 20% report
  • Female Non-Students: 32% report
  • The elderly: 28% report
  • Members of the military: 43% of female victims and 10% of male victims reported.

Common rape myths include but are not restricted to the following:

  • rape is rare
  • women secretly want to be raped
  • some women are asking to be raped
  • rape is harmless
  • rape is a result of uncontrollable passion
  • all rapists are mentally ill/retarded
  • only certain kinds of women are raped
  • a heterosexual man cannot be raped

In early studies police officers were more likely to support/endorse rape myths than members of other professions and the general public

Although more recent studies show fewer rape myths endorsed overall

Effects on the victims:

Lawyers often justify that jail time for perpetrators can have a severe impact on their lives yet victim is suffering from sexual assault or rape often develop social anxiety, depression, drinking problems,Suicidal thoughts or actions, paranoia , or in some cases a mental break

Some victims discuss the issue with a friend or co-worker but few people report it and even fewer bring the alleged offender to court

Victims fear not being believed, being humiliated or being retaliated against and losing their possibility of advancement

At least 1 in 3 raped women will develop PTSD rape trauma syndrome or another anxiety problem

Being in a small space or being touched by a person or object that either resembles or is correlated with a victims sexual assault may trigger:

  • anxiety-related responses such as changing the subject
  • avoiding eye contact
  • exhibiting inappropriate affect
  • emotional hypersensitivity
  • initial omission of details
  • or concentration/memory problems

To an officer unfamiliar with PTSD these behaviors can suggest

  • fabrication
  • substance abuse
  • or mental illness

Because of this a negative behavioral feedback loop can come about between a rape reporter and a police interviewer rape myth acceptance among female police officers was as dominant as their male colleagues rashle importance:


Rape myths shape the perpetrators’ views of victims, how the jury views them and how they view themselves.

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Power Over Victims: Sexual Assault In The Military. (2022, Sep 06). Retrieved March 5, 2024 , from

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