How Common is Sexual Assault in the Military?

Written by: Virginia Beach Injury Law

Unwanted Sexual Advances Continue to Rise

Many service members know the problem of sexual assault all too well. They know fellow service members who have survived sexual assault, or are survivors themselves. Despite the media attention that military sexual assaults have received over the last decade, the latest Pentagon report points to what it calls a "tragic increase" across all U.S. military branches.

Virginia Beach Injury Law represents sexual assault survivors in Virginia Beach and surrounding communities. Founder Ron Kramer II is a United States Marine Corps veteran who understands the unique situations of service members. He will fight for sexual assault victims who have suffered physical and psychological harm. Contact us at 757-802-4662 for your free consultation.

The Marine Corps Experienced the Highest Assault Rate

According to the Department of Defense’s annual Sexual Assault and Prevention Report statistics from Fiscal Year 2021 with those from Fiscal Year 2018, the Marine Corps had the highest percentage of women experiencing unwanted sexual contact, at 13.4%. The Navy’s rate was the second highest at 10%. Also notable was the increase of 7.5% that female sailors experienced over that three-year period. Over all military branches, the rate of unwanted sexual contact was 8.4% for women and 1.5% for men.

Confidence in the Military at an All-Time Low

Men, as well as women, who have experienced sexual assault from other military members, have expressed little trust in armed forces officials when it comes to protecting service members who have received unwanted sexual advances. The Pentagon report indicates that as many as 35,000 military members may be sexual assault victims, yet reporting is down because of the lack of confidence.

The decline in trust was particularly sharp among female service members, with less than 40% saying that they felt the military treated them with dignity. Even more disturbing is that 60% of women felt the military would not ensure their safety after reporting a sexual assault. Privacy was the biggest concern as only 34% believed the military would protect their privacy in legal cases, citing concerns that the defense in a sexual assault case might receive downloads of cell phone texts that could be used against them.

The Stigma Involving Male Military Members

Men trusted the military much more to back them when filing sexual assault cases, as 64% indicated they believed the military would ensure their safety, and 58% said they would ensure privacy. Nevertheless, men experience the stigma that male sexual assault actually occurs. In FY 2021, 19,255 men said they experienced sexual assault, yet far more women brought the issue to court martial.

Reporting Military Sexual Assault Comes With Challenges

Part of the problem with reporting sexual assault cases and pursuing a court case is that many victims do not want their morals questioned and decline to testify. In FY 2021, 31% of cases had victims who declined to participate, but if victims refuse to testify, the case frequently cannot move forward.

Changes Afoot?

The U.S. military is currently in the process of implementing changes resulting from the Secretary of Defense’s Independent Review Commission of Sexual Assault in the Military. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved 82 recommendations, but how many recommendations and how quickly the military will implement them is uncertain. One positive sign is that the Defense Department now has dedicated funding and resources for military sexual trauma.

Are You a Victim of Military Sexual Assault?

If you are a victim of sexual assault in the military, you may be able to sue the government for the suffering you have endured. Virginia Beach Injury Law will have your back, even if your superiors have not. Contact our office at 757-802-4662 to schedule your free and confidential appointment to discuss your possible case.

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