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The annual report on military sexual assault is due to come out Thursday, and the number has reportedly taken a big jump:
The annual study was expected to show a 50 percent jump to about 5,000 reports of sexual assault in the military in the 2013 fiscal year that ended on September 30, congressional aides said, a figure in line with preliminary numbers released by the Pentagon in December.

By comparison, the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office said 3,374 cases of sexual assault were reported in the 2012 fiscal year.

If those numbers sound lower than other numbers you've heard, it's likely because, over the past year, the most-cited figure has been 26,000. That figure comes from a broader survey that seeks information about unreported sexual assaults. Low reporting rates may also lie behind the 50 percent jump in reported assaults in 2013. Widespread attention on military sexual assault may have encouraged a higher proportion of victims to report attacks; in that sense, a higher number of reports can, perversely, be a sign of improvement. Underreporting remains a particular problem among men.

Several recent high-profile cases have showed how military commanders often encourage hostile environments and protect offenders. But, again, such cases are now coming to light in ways that they have not in past years, possibly signalling a shift, however slow and inadequate it remains. And top military officials are claiming to realize that things really do need to change; according to Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, "If it occurs that after a period of very intense and renewed emphasis on this that we can't solve it, I‘m not going to fight it being taken away from us." We'll see about that, but it's good to have those words on the record.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu May 01, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Better reporting would be an improvement, but we (3+ / 0-)

    need to have different eyes on the punishment and follow through. Too many get pushed to the side once they HAVE reported.
    Thanks for the diary LC, we need to keep the big light on this, we can't let it get dropped or pushed out any longer, people are hurting and then re-victimized by the system in place to help.
    Peace and Blessings!

    “When you victim-blame, be aware that in all likelihood, at least one woman you know and love silently decides she cannot trust you.” ` Steph Guthrie

    by Penny GC on Thu May 01, 2014 at 07:54:41 AM PDT

  •  How Can the US Military NOT Solve the Rape & (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, 2BOrNot2B

    sexual assault problem in their own ranks?!

    Discipline is supposedly their strength.

    And punishment (ex.  Hard Labor in Leavenworth military prison for decades or life, etc.) could be more draconian (much harsher and longer) than in civilian prisons.

    When top brass lose their careers and pensions and receive dishonorable discharges for allowing this sick culture to exist (not to mention survive and thrive) among the rank and file, they will come down hard on the perpetrators, including their closest friends/comrades-in-arms, instead of covering it up or making sweetheart plea bargains to lesser charges and more lenient punishments.

    The good ole boy system of criminal just us needs to go, and ending self-policing is the best way to start because it never works.

    •  The reason it cannot happen is that our country (2+ / 0-)

      has not made up its mind about women being completely free and equal.

      The military is a like a crucible that cooks and simmers making problems in regular society bubble up and explode.

      Whatever you see happening in there, is happening everywhere in our larger culture, it's just that because the military is mostly a closed off system where people cannot run away and hide without becoming a felon, make them deal with this problem in some fashion.

      When you are harassed and/or assaulted in the service you cannot just up and quit and leave. It's not like changing schools, or jobs (which are also not easy and very costly) but in addition, you are contractually obligated to remain at your post and do your job til you are either transferred or your contract is up.

      So that alone intensifies these problems.

      The military hides the problem and fails to deal with.
      The RC hides the problem and fails to deal with it.
      Colleges and Universities hide the problem and fails to deal with it.

      "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

      by GreenMother on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:22:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They could stop it, if they chose to. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bleedingheartliberal218

        They choose not to.

        You can have freedom or ignorance. Never both. - me

        by nolagrl on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:52:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you think (0+ / 0-)

          they could eradicate all sexual assault in the military but simply choose not to??

          •  With better screening of recruits, and if (0+ / 0-)

            training the troops were done by people with their heart in this cause, then we could begin to put a serious dent in this problem.

            When our manpower is down and we have wars going on, the military is famous for losing any attachments it has to caliber of character of new recruits. The standard goes way down in favor of swelling the ranks.

            In the past this was done by giving convicted criminals a choice: Jail or the military.  Thankfully that isn't supposed to happen any more.

            The other problems are guidance issues. It's difficult for older, senior personnel to give good guidance on an issue if they don't believe there is a problem. That was a major issue when I served and it sounds like it might still be one.

            It's not just males that perpetuate the culture of slut-shaming and rape either. Women are in some ways just as guilty of turning their backs on each other when issues like this arise. And that comes from our larger national culture which is then intensified by military service.

            But the military doesn't and hasn't dealt with these issues well. We are dealing with a Brass that is stuck in the 1950s trying to solve post-sexual revolution problems and politics with that 1950s mentality. And it' won't work, and even makes it worse.

            And yes, males who are raped are often accused of being gay or being feminine. This is a secondary trauma that can be even more damaging than the first because it attacks the male at his core identity. All rape is traumatic, but there are things that can and often do happen after the fact that can put fuel to a fire that can very well consume a person's entire life in ways you don't want to imagine.

            "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

            by GreenMother on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:06:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  the military is society (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ksuwildkat

              so better screening is not going to remove that fact.

              The military has spent the last few years and the next few years cutting folks.  The waivers that were allowed during war have long since passed, and Soldiers (both those in trouble and those who just aren't as good) are being cut at all levels.

              So what you say just isn't true. The jail or the military model hasn't been around for a long time.  My stepdad did that model, stayed in for 29 years, never got in trouble.

              But that was mostly a Vietnam War era thing.  Again, yes there were waivers, but that's different, and they are long gone.

              Do  you really think after all the pressure on commanders that the senior folks don't think there is a problem? Even if they didn't think that, they certainly have to act like they do if they want to get promoted.

              I certainly agree women can be worse than men.  As a prosecutor I actually didn't want women on the military jury, and as a defense counsel, I absolutely did.  Men were more prone to give an alleged victim some benefit, women gave them almost none.

              I listed elsewhere in this thread the things that have happened since 2007, please tell me how these are stuck in the 1950s:

              Created almost two-dozen special victim prosecutors who do nothing but prosecute sex crimes
              Created 50 special victim counsel who are attorneys who work for alleged victims
              Changed the laws (twice) to make it easier to get sex assault convictions, including removing lack of consent as an element the government has to prove
              Multiple sex assault training per year made mandatory

              •  Do I really think? (0+ / 0-)

                qazpalm, I served and experienced this directly.

                When you have a service that makes birth control available, but then regularly attempts to use a woman's sexual activity as a means to discredit any complaint of harassment or rape--that's the 1950s clashing with that post Sexual Revolution.

                I had to take the training offered on sexual harassment, and it was taught by people who would say blatantly that there wasn't a problem and that "They HAD to do this because of the mamby pamby libruls made them do it." It's all part of the new, "kinder gentler Military..."  

                And yea, screening is a problem. Looking the other way at kids and adults who had serious problems with the law
                --boys will be boys type mentality is an issue.

                Jesus Effing Christ--do you think that people just sit around and think of ways to just throw random shit around about this?

                Do I really Think. Yea, I get to fucking think about this for the rest of my fucking life, because I lived it, just like a lot of other women who lived it, going all the way back in ever era we had women serving in the United States Service.

                "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

                by GreenMother on Mon May 05, 2014 at 04:37:43 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  when did you last serve? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ksuwildkat

                  Because I suspect it wasn't in the last few years.  If it was let me know where and when, and I will personally contact that unit if you had someone teach you with that attitude.

                  No, they simply do not "look the other way" anymore.  Quotas are tight because they are trying to cut people, not add more.  

                  It's the reverse of the war years you appear to be familiar with, when yes they gave waivers they shouldn't have.

                  You didn't answer my main question. So I will ask again, what do you make of all the things i listed? What more, exactly, would you want done in addition to qualify as "not stuck in the 1950s?"

      •  yep (2+ / 0-)

        and men who are raped are often blamed as being 'feminine.'  

        and PTSD claims are more often denied for sexual assault trauma.

        I once met with a man who had been deployed in a not war zone, but in a small place where the command knew many of the soldiers.  This man said he reported some fellow soldiers for theft of government property, he thought they were taking supplies and selling them to the locals. A few days later he said he was gang raped, and he got the idea that it had been videoed and was being viewed as 'entertainment' and shown around.  The thought made him 'crazy.'

        A military woman who was serious minded and athletic was at a bar, she was given a drink, and the next thing she knew it was the next morning, she was naked in her parked car, in a remote area of town. Her clothes were missing.  She refused to consider that she'd been drugged, because she got along with the fellow who gave her the drink and she couldn't believe that he would drug her even though her two friends, female, also 'blacked out,' at the same time; they both woke in the barracks.  

        Both had PTSD symptoms, surprise?

        There are lots of stories in the Naked Military, these have been two of them.

        plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

        by anna shane on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:57:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  When they started pee testing officers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bleedingheartliberal218

      they ended a professional military.  "Here's the keys to the nukes.  Now pee in this bottle, untrustworthy scum. While we watch."

      Then they tore down the club system, which destroyed the main teaching/supervision tool of the Officer and NCO corps.

      Remember, Cheney was head of DoD under Bush.

      His evil is deeper than you think.

      You can have freedom or ignorance. Never both. - me

      by nolagrl on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:50:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  don't want to ruin the life (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bleedingheartliberal218

      of the person who does not have enough discipline to say no to sex.  When we get rid of the idea that someone military personnel have no control of their actions, and must penetrate whatever body presents itself, we will solve this problem.

      Once again on reporting on this issue, I have heard that some are still saying we need to protect the alleged perpetrator. Yes, we should not lose an officer just because that officer chose to have sex with stranger or the signals got crossed, or perhaps the victim got too drunk to say no, or perhaps the officer thought that a deal was made with a subordinate.

      On the other hand, in civilized society we are coming to realize that sex is risky if the partners are not known to each other, that such sex might result in accusations, and that it is consensual if one party is unconscious or if there is a power imbalance.

  •  Much bigger contributer than attention from (0+ / 0-)

    outside has been the sexual assault awareness training all military personnel are required to attend.  There has been a lot of it, and the increased awareness and reporting is probably directly attributable to the training.

    "There are no atheists in foxholes" isn't an argument against atheism, it's an argument against foxholes. - James Morrow

    by kirrix on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:17:30 PM PDT

    •  not likely (0+ / 0-)

      they always do that, same thing for many years, I think it's the publicity and the possibility that their command may be impartial because they want to show they don't need to be supervised.

      plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

      by anna shane on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:59:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No thanks to Claire McCaskill who voted NOT (0+ / 0-)

    to help victims via the outside the military overview and managing of these crimes.

    When you have mostly men in charge and in power, just exactly how on earth do you expect the Norms to change for the better, especially in circumstances like these? It is no different than what we see today in our Rich, White, and Mostly Male Congress. Nothing gets done for the good of the People. Not to the degree it should.

    Women like Claire, as smart as they are, as well educated as they are, are still hurting all people, men and women, when they use old fashioned methodologies to get a job done. Refusing to see the facts, refusing to work from a holistic view of the entire problem, this is why we get nowhere.

    Just having a few more cases "reported" to the military will not change outcomes necessarily. Not at all. Much more is needed. Victims deserve much better than they are getting from this current Congress and Military Leadership. Much better.

    "We can have Democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis D. Brandeis

    by 2BOrNot2B on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:27:51 PM PDT

  •  Why are they in their killing clothes? (0+ / 0-)

    When do they get to wear those medals?

    NEVER.

    There are many good reasons why professional military MUST wear their service dress uniforms.

    First, they allow the members to relax.  You can't stand down when you're dressed to kill.  Even at home.  You're surrounded by minions that all look alike.  Not psychologically healthy.

    Second, they look like an occupying force. Because that's what they are dressed like.  Service dress makes it clear they aren't being intimidating to civilians.

    Third. The service dress allows them to wear their medals, badges and rank prominently.  It helps retain individuality, allows them to take pride in accomplishments, and lets them feel less like a clone.

    Fourth.  The whole 'dress like a warrior, think like a warrior' sound bite was generated by Cheney era generals trying to look boyish and sexy.  I watched it happen, just before I retired.  

    We no longer have a professional military.  We have mercenaries and religious traitors.

    You can have freedom or ignorance. Never both. - me

    by nolagrl on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:47:29 PM PDT

  •  Hopefully this is a case of higher reporting (0+ / 0-)

    of a lower number of incidents.

    A man can dream, can't he?
    A man can dream...

  •  "hey, its not so bad." -army advert parody on FG (0+ / 0-)

    when I see adverts for the military, I laugh.  I think, you've got to be out of your gourds.

    i remember the "army of one" commericials... ridiculous.  trying to capitalize on the vanity of a generation raised by various Bond/Bourne archetypes.  the people I knew in the military all had their reasons, but generally scoffed at the commercial.

    Nevermind facism, loss of personal, physical or idealogical freedom.  Nevermind that your trade in the military will not likely translate into a sellable skill (contrary to some claims).

    Or that vets are killing themselves.

    Nevermind whistle blowers are sentenced to nearly a life term while being held without charges for nearly 3 years.

    nevermind complicity in foreign and domestic terrorism.

    nevermind homosexuals are discriminated against.

    But, you too can be raped with impunity.  Is this offer for men or women?  Yes.

    I'm not railing against soldiers, but instead the perverse culture and power structure.  And to a lesser extent their complicity in that, but primarily those who have the power to do different but do not.

  •  assaulting another soldier/sailor/airman (0+ / 0-)

    shouldn't assaulting a fellow member of the military be some kind of treason or something?

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