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Officials encourage male victims to report sexual assault crimes

By Editor’s note: The following article is provided by Marcus White, civilian victim advocate, Family Advocacy Program, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, from the following websites; www.slate.com/arti | | June 20, 2014


A new study reveals that men are often the victims of sexual assault and women are often the perpetrators, according to Hanna Rosin, author of the article, “When men are raped.”

In 2013, the National Crime Victimization Survey turned up a remarkable statistic. In asking 40,000 households about rape and sexual violence, the survey uncovered that 38 percent of incidents were against men. 

The number seemed so high that it prompted researcher, Lara Stemple to call the Bureau of Justice Statistics to see if it had maybe made a mistake, or changed its terminology. 

After all, in years past men had accounted for somewhere between 5 and 14 percent of rape and sexual assault violence victims, according to the website, www.slate.com/articles/double_xdoublex/2014/04/male_rape_in_america_a_new_study_reveals_that_men_are_sexually_assaulted.html.

But no, it wasn’t a mistake, officials told her.

Reports by members of the military on sexual assaults jumped by an unprecedented 50 percent in 2013, in what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declared a “clear threat” to both male and female service members’ lives and well-being, according to the website, www.cnsnews.com/news/article/pentagon-encouraging-male-victims-sexual-assault-speak.

Under the military’s definition, a sexual assault can be anything from unwanted sexual contact, such as inappropriate touching or grabbing, to sodomy and rape.

The latest numbers reflected an aggressive campaign by the Pentagon to persuade victims to come forward, but Hagel and others said they need to do more to get men to report assaults, a challenge in a military culture that values strength. 

Hagel said an estimated half of sexual assault victims in the military are men, yet only 14 percent of reported assaults involve male victims, wrote Washington Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor in the article “Pentagon encouraging male victims of sexual assault to speak up.”

Hagel told a news conference he has ordered Pentagon officials to increase their efforts to get male victims to report sexual abuse and also has asked the military services to review their alcohol sales and policies.

In as many as two-thirds of reported sexual assault cases, alcohol is involved. 

“We have to fight cultural stigmas that discourage reporting and be clear that sexual assault does not occur because a victim is weak, but rather because an offender disregards our values and the law” Hagel said.

Officials said they believe the number of male victims is greatly under reported because of anonymous members. 

A 2012 survey found that about 26,000 service members said they were victims of some type of

sexual assault. A key finding in that survey was that, in sheer numbers, more men than women said they had been assaulted.

About 6.8 percent of women surveyed said they were assaulted and 1.2 percent of the men. But there are vastly more men in the military by the raw numbers, a bit more than 12,000 women said they were assaulted, compared with nearly 14,000 men. 

Defense officials said that male victims often worry that complaining will make people think they are weak and trigger questions about their sexual orientation. 

In most cases, however, sexual orientation has nothing to do with the assault and it’s more an issue of power or abuse. 

“There is still a misperception that this is a women’s issue and women’s crime, “Nate Galbreath, senior executive for the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office, said. “It’s disheartening that we have such a differential between the genders and how they are choosing to report. The military, Galbreath said, needs to get the message out. 

“It’s not the damsel in distress; it’s your fellow service member that might need you to step in,” he said, adding that troops need to treat such a request for help like any other need for aid, just like on the battlefield.

While the number of reported assaults shot up sharply in 2013, defense officials said that based on survey data and other information, they believe the increase was largely due to victims feeling more comfortable coming forward. 

As for the military, Hagel said he was ordering six initiatives, including the review of alcohol sales and address the risks of alcohol being used as a weapon by predators who might ply a victim with drinks before attacking.

Hagel’s six initiatives will be discussed in part two of this series scheduled to be published in The Emblem, June 26.

For more information, call the Department of Defense’s Safe Helpline at 1-877-995-5247, go to the website, www.SafeHelpline.org or call 229-639-8896/5252.