Why Reports about Sexual Assaults in Army Increasing

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There has been a big increase in sexual assault reports in the military from 2016 to 2017 according to Lisa Ferdinando (dod.defense.gov, Annual Report). In 2016 there were over 6,000 reports of sexual assault whereas in 2017 there are just over 6,700 reports, that’s close to a 10% difference. One thing is for sure, something needs to change, and it starts at the individual level. We are seeing an increase in sexual assault in the army because of alcohol abuse, having little to no repercussions for the offenders, and increased reporting.

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Alcohol is a large part of the Military culture. Of course, soldiers are not permitted to consume alcohol during work hours and are strongly discouraged on excessive consumption. Many briefs are given, and it seems that the government has taken great lengths to educate its military in the dangers of irresponsible use. However; alcohol is accepted and expected in social events such as military balls and platoon sanctioned events such as barbecues or hanging out at the bar. With all the education and the warnings and the discipline, these soldiers have, some take their consumption too far as a stress release. The release and the fun leads down a slippery slope of impaired judgment that can and has led to sexual assault in many cases. The victim may find themselves in a situation they wouldn’t normally have gone near without the influence of alcohol. The attacker may become more violent in their impaired state. One way or another, this road leads to unwanted sexual assault. According to sapr.mil, DoD Annual report on SA in the military (p. 11, para 4) focus groups are pointing out that alcohol is involved in these “social events” and agree that it plays a role in SA. This can be a simple fix. As we’re always told, it starts at the lowest level. Leaders need to stress this to their soldiers about control and to watch each other’s back. If we want to see these types of reports decreasing, we need to take an honest look at the Military culture and the part alcohol plays. It may be time to put a limit on the amount consumed at these events. Everyone wants the freedom to enjoy themselves, but the price of a little too much freedom, in this case, is great. Victims are left dealing with this for the rest of their lives.

Imagine being sexually assaulted by a co-worker after one of those social gatherings. After escaping the attacker, you confront your chain of command. Your chain of command says, “do you have the evidence to prove this? Without evidence, we can’t do anything.” (case dependent) And then moves about their business. No action. No consequences for the attacker. No justice. This scenario is a reality for many victims within the military. Only a few sex offenders were court-martialed and sent to jail out of thousands. Within those 6,000 reports, nearly 1500 of those are restricted reports, which only means the assailant was not revealed according to Andrew Tilghman (militarytimes.com). As you can imagine, this is extremely damaging and frustrating to the victim. It can also seem pretty encouraging for the accused. Think about this: If you could eat a dozen cookies every day with no weight gain or health drawbacks but your doctor simply told you it was bad; would you still do it? Probably. The solution to seeing less sexual assault is simply to stop making it so easy. There should be consistent consequences for sexual assault in the military in order to see change.

We have all heard of the #MeToo movement. In recent years, there have been many high-profile cases in which a victim has reported an offender in the public spotlight. The high-profile Kavanaugh hearing has served as a catalyst, according to an article by Holly Yan (cnn.com). In the same article, it states that whenever some form of sexual assault is reported through the media, victims are more likely to report their case. For example, there was a 57% increase in calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline the weekend before Ford’s testimony in the Kavanaugh hearing. Reports of sexual assault have increased because victims are becoming more confident in themselves. They are seeing the bravery of others and following suit. To improve, I think we need to work with our fellow soldiers and those that work under us and help them to understand the importance of reporting sexual assault and supporting those who come forward.

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Why Reports About Sexual Assaults in Army Increasing. (2019, Feb 20). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from
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