By Debbie Gregory.
While incidences of sexual assault in the U.S. military is on the decline, retaliation and ostracism still pose a significant problem among victims who report these crimes.
According to the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military 2016, the department’s main program efforts are:
- Advancing Sexual Assault Prevention
- Assuring a Quality Response to Service Members Who Report Sexual Assault
- Improving Response to Male Service Members Who Report Sexual Assault
- Combatting Retaliation Associated with Sexual Assault Reporting
Of those who experienced ostracism or maltreatment after reporting an incident, 29 percent indicated the treatment they perceived involved some form of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Yik Yak, and Snapchat.
About 1 in 3 service members who experienced a sexual assault ultimately filed a report in 2016, the Pentagon says. That’s up from 1 in 14 a decade ago.
An estimated 14,900 service members surveyed last year say that they were the victim of a sexual assault. While the number is down from previous years, 60 per cent of victims say they’ve experienced some sort of negative reaction as a consequence for coming forward.
While prevention and support efforts show demonstrable signs of progress, there is still a long way to go.
“That’s way too many people having to experience this stuff, but this is how change works,” said a senior Pentagon official.
John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Ranking Member Jack Reed issued a statement saying “we are encouraged” by the report’s findings. At the same time, while “these trends point toward a positive improvement …, there is still much work to be done.”
Special victims counsel and victim advocates were the most-used support services, with the highest satisfaction ratings, but men weren’t as satisfied overall as women with the support they received.