An alarming number of sexual assaults in the military occur every day, every month, every year. Dr. Carl Castro, PhD associate professor and director of the Center for Innovation and Research from the Veterans Administration shows that 25% of female Service members and 3% of all male service members are victims of sexual assaults in the military.
The reasons that military sexual assault leads to military sexual trauma (MST) are numerous. There a lot of rules, policies, procedures and laws that let sexual predators go undetected, uncaptured, unnoticed and unprosecuted in the military.
The military moves personnel from station to station every two-to-three years – this is an opportunity for perpetrators to assault another service member without being detected or without being caught.
Here is one example of how a female soldier was victim of sexually assaults in the military: a female service member is assigned to a new unit. She does not know anyone in this new unit, she is trying to make friends and establish her social network and the perpetrator was the “oh, let me show you around” person. The new female service member was then sexually assaulted by the person that befriended her. The military sexual assault occurred after the perpetrator – that was established with the unit – received notice that they were being transferred to a new unit at a different location.
Often times, all the victims of sexual assaults in the military really want is to no longer be around the person that assaulted them, and by the attacker leaving the unit, the victim has achieved that basic desire. Then the victims often choose not to report the military sexual assault – this allows the perpetrator to sexually assault another service member at a new station.
There are challenges in the military that are not as common in the civilian side. One example is the constant moving – having these constant transitions can really influence when these military sexual assaults are likely to happen. Joining the military, not knowing anyone, not having a social support system, not having friends, being single – all of these things are in play in the early part of your military career.
80-90% of the sexual assaults in the military involve underage drinking.
Another matter related to sexual assaults in the military is underage drinking. The military has a lot of individuals under 21 years old. If you are 18, 19, or 20 and have been drinking and are sexually assaulted in the military, then you are less likely to come forward and report the military sexual assault because you could get in trouble for underage drinking. This makes it difficult to get victims to report assaults as they are afraid of getting punished themselves.
80-90% of sexual assaults in the military are unreported. You may tell a close friend or family member, but the military sexual assault report was not made to authorities. This generally means the victim did not get care or support to deal with the sexual assault in the military. When you leave the military you may still have all the issues surrounding the military sexual assault.
Military leaders must understand that most reported sexual assaults in the military are true. Too often military leaders take a natural position on sexual assaults, they do not want to take sides of one service member. Worse yet is when military leaders choose the side of the perpetrator and blame the victim of the military sexual assault. Leaders need to believe the report. In the United States, we are innocent until proven guilty, but too often this thought process has gotten in the way of supporting the victim.
Data has shown that when the victims of sexual assaults in the military come forward, they are more likely to heal. If they have a supportive leadership, a supportive climate that believes them – that goes a long way in the healing process.
It is common for the victims of sexual assaults in the military to not want to report the sexual assault. Actress Abigail Breslin recently opened up about why she didn’t report being raped by someone that she was in a relationship with while serving. Breslin stated that she was in complete shock and total denial. She said she did not want to view herself as a victim, so she pretended it never happened. She said she was in a relationship with the person who raped her and she “feared not being believed.” She was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The effects of sexual assaults in the military can take decades to resolve, if they ever resolve.
Sexual assaults in the military can have long-term effects on the victim’s work performance and relationships for many years. What can be a one-time event often leaves the victim with a lifetime of pain and suffering. As a victim of military sexual trauma you may suffer from anxiety, depression, mood swings, PTSD, physical injuries, sleeping problems, nightmares, and a variety of mental conditions.
Veterans can receive military sexual trauma veterans benefits even if the assault was never reported.
The VA Disability lawyers at Woods and Woods can help victims of sexual assaults in the military. Since 1985, Woods & Woods has been dedicated to helping disabled people. Our lawyers have helps thousands of disabled veterans. The Veterans Disability lawyers at Woods and Woods respect your privacy. Confidentiality is of the upmost importance with all the lawyers and staff at Woods and Woods. For a free and confidential review of your veterans benefits claim, please fill out the contact form or call us toll-free at (866) 232-5777.