Female sexual assault: Military 1 in 3 – Civilian 1 in 6

March 19, 2009

Updated

Yep, that’s right. Women servicemembers are more likely to be raped in the military than on the street and they are more likely to be raped than killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And the actual numbers are worse – the Pentagon believes that 80% of rapes in the military are not reported.


It is heinous.

Why should a woman, who volunteered to serve our country, have to be more concerned about the friendly sleeping in the next bunk than the foe hiding in the next bunker?

Forget Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — their choice to engage in sodomy is voluntary. What needs to be addressed is the the forcible sodomy of servicewomen by their fellow soldiers, even as they risk their lives for the rapists.

Rape is so widespread and the long term disability so great, the Veterans Administration named it: Military Sexual Trauma and classifies it as a separate subset of PTSD otherwise known as the “other PTSD”. And the Army has it’s own website: sexualassaultarmy.mil

There’s even a “Military Rape Awareness Week” (October 12th – 16th).

Sexual trauma as defined by the military:

Personal or sexual assault are events of human design that threaten or inflict harm. We define sexual trauma as any lingering physical, emotional, or psychological symptoms resulting from a physical assault of a sexual nature, or battery of a sexual nature.

events of human design”

Any veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.

And that’s part of the problem. They wait until they are veterans to report it and by then the damage is done. And then when they seek medical treatment – they find that VAs are not set up for women and have few female physicians/therapists.

Vet Centers also have specially trained sexual trauma counselors. To accommodate veterans who do not feel comfortable in mixed-gender treatment settings, some facilities throughout VA have separate programs for men and women.

And when they ask and there are none available?

How many women veterans are going to feel comfortable sitting in a room with male veterans and a male therapist while talking about what a male soldier(s) did to them?

How many studies have followed the rapists after they’ve re-entered civilian life to determine how many men who raped while serving in the military continue to rape when they get out?

I would guess none. The rapist would have to have been identified and successfully prosecuted while they were in military and then discharged with a record of it.

And what does the media focus on?

Wanting to photograph flag-draped coffins.

They show no concern for the walking dead. How often do you hear this discussed in the MSM?

Here are some interesting comments from DAVID MARTIN: [emphasis added]

A Veterans Administration study found that 1 in 7 female veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan seeking medical care from the VA suffered sexual trauma – everything from harassment to rape.

Medical records of 125,000 war veterans, both men and women, showed 15 percent of the women reported sexual trauma. That works out to nearly 2,600 veterans.

But the number of cases is much higher when the unreported cases are taken in to account.

A recent survey by the Government Accountability Office of just 14 military bases found 103 service members who said they’ve been sexually assaulted in the previous 12 months.

Of these, 52 indicated they did not report the sexual assault.

That’s 1 in 2.

And women who suffer sexual trauma are more likely to develop medical and mental problems.

Studies show it ranks high – or higher – than combat as a cause of post-traumatic stress disorder.

How much of the post-deployment screening for PTSD focuses on Military Sexual Trauma?

How many of the mental health professionals doing the screenings are men vs women?

How many of either sex have had formal training in rape counseling?

How many can spot the signs and symptoms of unreported rape?

In 2006, Congress mandated the military keep track of rapes. It took an act of Congress to force the military to take serious the epidemic of rape within its ranks. Prior to 2006, no one knew of their vile little secret or held them accountable, which is why the rapes have gone/still go unreported, the rapists unpunished, and the women untreated and unheard.

And when the women do find the courage to come forward?

They discover there is little chance the case will ever make it to court.

In 2006: 2,974 cases of rape and sexual assault reported — only 292 resulted in a military trial.

And there’s no mention of how many of the 292 cases that reached trial were thrown out and/or how many of them resulted in conviction and what the punishments were because they don’t keep track.

Any wonder why rapes in the military are under reported?

Why would a woman, who chose the military as a career, report a rape when there’s less than a 10% chance it would reach trial and a 90% chance she would be discharged for reporting it?

And what happens to the servicemen who are convicted of rape/sexual assault?

75-85% of convicted rapists leave the military without dishonorable discharges and re-enter civilian life with no record of the conviction.

In 2007:

Of the 2212 servicemen investigated for sexual assaultonly 181 were prosecuted = 8%

Contrast that to civilian life where 40% of cases are prosecuted.

In 2008, VA hospital in LA reported that 41% of the women veterans seen there were sexually assaulted. 4 in 10 women. Imagine what the real number is.

Jessica’s story

Katie Couric talked with one brave patriot, Jessica, who was one of three women in a unit with 60 men. Just weeks in she was sexually harassed by her superior and then she was raped by a soldier from another base.

It’s one thing if the rapist is a stranger, an acquaintance, a family member, a religious man, a teacher, a person in a position of authority and quite another if it’s someone you have sworn to risk your life for – someone who allegedly swore to save and protect yours.

It’s the ultimate act of betrayal.

And how did the rest of her fellow soldiers act? Did they turn him in or laugh and ask for details?

On average, how many women do you think a male soldier rapes before he gets caught?

How many gang or serial rapes are there?

And some of the rapists who are found guilty are not discharged – they are given pay/rank reductions – as if they were found guilty of pilfering office supplies or punching in late.

What does the military code of conduct entail?

Does it mention rape?

What do you supposed would happen to a female soldier if she restrained her fellow soldier and repeatedly and forcefully penetrated him with a foreign object?

What’s the likelihood she would get off with a pay/rank reduction?

Why does the utterance “I am gay” merit dismissal when a sexual assault conviction does not?

How many gay soldiers are raping women?

And who replaces DADT dismissed servicemen? Like 9-time decorated USAF pilot Lt Col Victor Fehrenbach, who was handpicked to protect the Pentagon after 9-11. Or West Point grads fluent in Arabic like Lt Dan Choi, who served two tours in Iraq and was more that willing to do a third?

Convicted felons, including sex offenders aka rapists.

In 2007 – 511 convicted felons were admitted to the Army — a bit more than half were various types of thefts, ranging from burglaries to bad checks and stolen cars, 130 were for drug offenses, 2 manslaughter, 5 sex crimes, 3 negligent or vehicular homicide, 2 terror threats (including bomb threats)

But they come with warning labels and can be watched. The run-of-the mill, not-yet-convicted rapists do not.

How is the Army going to discover who the rapists are when they don’t even know how many rapes are taking place? When the raped women do not feel comfortable coming forward because they know how infrequent prosecutions are successful? And when there isn’t adequate screening and treatment?

The only way this is going to stop is if the band of brothers decide to make it stop. These rapists do not rape without at least one of their fellow brothers/rapists knowing. Those who say nothing and know about the crime should be punished in the same fashion as the rapist.

Here is Katie Couric’s interview with the transcript below. Please take the 4:26 to watch.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Transcript follows

CBS Transcript

COURIC VOICOVER: They’ve become an integral part of modern warfare – 200,000 active duty women serving alongside their band of brothers. Jessica was one of those women. Born into a military family, at 24 she enlisted in the Army. Following basic training she was posted half a world away at Camp Humphreys in South Korea. She was assigned to an Apache helicopter maintenance crew, one of three women in a unit of 60 men. Jessica worked hard to blend into a very macho world, CBS News anchor Katie Couric reports.

JESSICA: You figure out how to turn the guy off, and become one of the guys. That’s your safety mechanism.

COURIC VOICEOVER: But that safety mechanism failed. Just weeks into her new assignment, her squad leader began making unwanted sexual comments. Then it turned physical when he tried to force himself on her. She was afraid to report it, tried to forget it, but the assault haunted her. In a completely unrelated incident when she was out one night, someone she knew from another base raped her.

JESSICA: The betrayal issues to this day are still pretty deep. You know, I was like, ‘I’m willing to give my life for this guy next to me but how do I know that he’s not going to hurt me?'”

COURIC VOICEOVER: Jessica’s story is not unique. One in three female soldiers will experience sexual assault while serving in the military, compared to one in six women in the civilian world. The Pentagon released a disturbing report Tuesday on sexual abuse in the military, saying that more than 2,900 sexual assaults were reported last year, up nearly 9 percent from the year before. Nearly two-thirds of the cases involved rape or aggravated assault.

COURIC: How big a problem do you believe is rape and sexual assault in the US Military is right now?

Principal Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness MICHAEL DOMINGUEZ:

DOMINGUEZ: Sexual assault injures troops. Injures readiness. So regardless of the numbers we have, it is by definition too much.

[Look at how uncomfortable he is just talking about it. Notice he said “troops”. He didn’t say women. He completely depersonalized them. And that it injuries ‘readiness”. It doesn’t get more minimizing than that. Rape murders a woman’s soul just as assuredly as an IED.]

COURIC VOICEOVER: But how often does it happen? The Pentagon only started a comprehensive program to track incidents in 2006, and only after Congress mandated it do so. That year there were 2,974 cases of rape and sexual assault across the services. And of those, only 292 cases resulted in a military trial. And in 2007 there were even fewer prosecutions.

COURIC: Of more than 2,200 servicemen investigated for sexual assault, only 181 were prosecuted?

DOMINGUEZ: Yes, we absolutely have to get better. [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates himself is driving this initiative this year to improve our ability to investigate, to prosecute and convict. This is not where we want to be.

COURIC VOICEOVER: And in a majority of cases, the punishment doesn’t seem to match the crime. Often most offenders only get a reduction in rank or reduced pay.

[That’s it. That’s all – compared to the ruination of the female soldier and loss of her career. What woman is going to be able to serve effectively after her rapist basically ends up with a fine? And they get to keep their jobs. What type of incentive is that for a women to report a rape? They want to stop it – stiffen the penalty – summarily discharge if found guilty.]

VIVIAN GEMBERA, a retired member of the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps:

GEMBERA: These are major crimes, not misdemeanors. A lot of times what we see in the JAG court is very inexperienced, brand spanking new lawyers being given rape cases, murder cases.

COURIC VOICEOVER: This month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for a military-wide “review of the training and experience’ of investigators and prosecutors for sexual assault cases. For many victims their assault remains a shameful secret. The Pentagon acknowledges that some 80 percent of rapes are never reported – making it the most under-documented crime in the military.

CALLIE WIGHT, a military sexual trauma counselor for the Veterans Administration said victims haven’t come forward for a number of reasons.

WIGHT: They didn’t report because they didn’t think they’d be believed. They didn’t report because they were ashamed and humiliated and they didn’t want anyone to know what happened to them.”

COURIC VOICEOVER: The military is trying to reduce the stigma through increased awareness, education and guaranteeing confidentiality to victims reporting such crimes. The army has launched a national program called “I Am Strong.” Installations like Fort Irwin in California credit the campaign with driving assault numbers down. But for soldiers like Jessica any changes came too late.

JESSICA: The worst letdown is people who didn’t believe in me to help get through this and keep me in the army. I really wanted to be a good soldier.

COURIC VOICEOVER: Traumatized by assault and re-traumatized by inaction, she has left the military and is now trying to help other victims.

***

In this bit – I don’t know if it was Jessica’s choice – Couric didn’t interview her and there was no grilling of Dominguez or interview of Gates.
Women in Iraq & Afghanistan more likely to be raped than killed by enemy fire
Department of Veterans Affairs – Center for Women Veterans
Department of Veterans Affairs – Women’s Trauma Recovery Program

One Response to “Female sexual assault: Military 1 in 3 – Civilian 1 in 6”

  1. mattie14 Says:

    Hi amcit.

    Thank you for your service to our country.

    The way you explained it makes sense. I’ve wondered how not reporting crimes squares with the military code of honor. Lt Dan Choi, a Westpoint grad just came out on Rachel Maddow and for that he could be fired. It makes no sense. Anyone who puts their life on the line for our country should be treated equally, whether their gender, ethnicity or sexuality. I find it very sad that there are women who make false allegations. I wonder what happens to them in the military if and when they are found out. I don’t thing the % of cases and convictions can be attributed to false allegations. Is it possible that such a crime – any crime – could go on without the unit knowing about it? It really is sad and adds to the reason why women do not report them. That runaway bride alleged she was sexually assaulted and all she received was grass mowing community service. She should have been made to answer the rape crisis hotline and listen to women who have been raped firsthand so she could apologize to them.

    Thanks again for your comment and even more for your selflessness. Hope you are doing well in retirement.

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