The Associated Press reports that as of September 30, 2013, more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault in the military were filed. A total of 3, 374 were filed in 2012.
However, officials note that the increase in reports does not necessarily mean that more assaults are taking place. They attribute the uptick at least partially to military personnel feeling more comfortable coming forward with their stories. After a few assaults made national news, the military established new protocols to increase sexual assault awareness and to encourage victims to step forward.
Jill Loftus, director of the Navy’s Sexual Assault and Prevention Response Office, told the Associated Press that the significant jump in reported assaults is mainly due to increased efforts by the military. “We are not seeing a perception that the number of incidents are going up. More likely we have people who understand what sexual assault is,” said Loftus.
If the increase in reported assaults is due to more education/awareness and not an actual increase in assaults, there is still more work to do. An anonymous survey earlier this year showed that 26,000 military service members reported some type of sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact. Clearly, not all 26,000 members filed formal complaints.
President Obama recently signed into law a defense bill that among other things, requires a dishonorable discharge or dismissal for military service members who are convicted of sexual assault.
What have been your experiences with sexual assault in the military?