The Military Sexual-Assault Problem

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Sexual assault has been an issue throughout the Army for a long time. It seems that with every passing year the number of sexual assaults increase within the organization, causing further concern for the morale and the safety of the troops. Regardless of the zero-tolerance policy and the multitude of trainings and briefs given on the topic, the number of sexual assaults in the Army continues to rise. It is likely that this perceived escalation in numbers is not due to an actual increase in sexual assault, but due to the victims feeling more secure in reporting what happened.

Sexual assault occurs mainly due to an imbalance of power. The assaulter normally has financial, physical, or authoritative power over the other individual. This causes the assaulter to feel empowered and untouchable, allowing them to act in any way that would benefit themselves. “In the military, the level of coercion that can be facilitated through the use of rank and authority can be just as serious as the threat or use of physical force”1. Unfortunately, power imbalance within the military is not something that we can fix without the obliteration of the rank structure, which is never going to happen nor should it happen. This leads us to a different tactic to mitigate the number of sexual assaults as best we can; through education.

The current training does reduce the risk of sexual assault and harassment occurring in the Army. Despite the antagonistic sighs that occur when mentioning a SHARP brief, the training does make a difference. Then why the increase in sexual assaults? “The report for fiscal 2017 says the department received 6,769 reports of sexual assault involving service members as either victims or subjects of criminal investigation, a 9.7 percent increase over the 6,172 reports made in fiscal 2016”2. The likely reason behind the increase in reported sexual assaults in the recent years is due to the changes in the SHARP program. People feel safer in coming forward when something happens, causing a perceived fluctuation in the numbers.

The safety and security given to victims of sexual assault in the Army makes them feel more in control of what happens. After sexual assault, the victim generally feels powerless and incapable. Without proper guidance and outlets for them, they may sink into a depression, their work will falter, and they may not report the assault due to feelings of insecurity in the system. In response to these feelings of unease, the Army has put a good system in place to give back power to the victims and make them feel comfortable reporting the incidences. Having both the formal and informal channels available gives back control of their privacy and furthermore give us an accurate count of how much of a problem sexual assault really is within our ranks.

The numbers may be going up regarding sexual assault, but it is likely due to the victims feeling more empowered and able to report. It is highly unlikely that sexual violence in the military will be fully eradicated. However, there are ways to help decrease the prevalence of this particular plague: education and giving the victims their sense of security back so they can build their strength back up in order to report the incidence.




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The Military Sexual-Assault Problem. (2019, Feb 20). Retrieved April 18, 2024 , from

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