According to a recent story in the Army Times, sexual assaults continue to increase in the Army, stats that are reflective of a larger issue throughout the U.S. military.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military (FY 2018), which was released earlier this year, indicates more than 20,000 U.S. service members experienced some type of sexual assault last year.
The report says roughly 13,000 women and 7,500 men had been victims of assault in 2018, up from 14,900 from the last review in 2016. Overall, the number of active duty sexual assault cases is increasing, primarily for females between the ages of 17-24.
As many as 6.2 percent of active duty females said they had experienced at least one sexual assault in the year prior to being surveyed, an increase of 4.3 from 2016. That statistic was primarily unchanged for males at about .7 percent.
Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said the statistics are going the wrong way.
“Clearly we have to do something different,” he said.
Although sexual assault reporting rates have quadrupled for the military in the past 10 years, as few as 1 in 3 sexual assault victims actually report their assault to DoD.
“Although the sexual assault reporting rate was steady between FY 2016 and FY 2018, with one in three Service members choosing to report their assault to a DoD authority, we are not satisfied with this result,” said James Stewart, assistant secretary for Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
The DoD report also indicated that most offenders were people that victims considered to be friends or acquaintances.
Stewart said DoD will continue to increase its focus on identifying solutions.
One solution is already at their fingertips—SeekThenSpeak.org.
Seek Then Speak is a digital tool that helps sexual assault victims, including U.S. service members, gather information, explore their options, and take action, if and when they are ready.
Members of the U.S. military who connect with Seek Then Speak over the internet, via phone, text, or mobile app, can learn about specific reporting options for U.S. military members and their dependents: restricted reporting or unrestricted reporting.
With restricted reporting, service members can disclose information about the assault without activating an official investigation and can get access to medical treatment, counseling, advocacy services, and legal aid. These are confidential conversations and are not released to law enforcement or facilitated to a higher chain of command. Unrestricted reporting will open an official law enforcement investigation into the report. With Seek Then Speak, survivors can also learn about reporting to local law enforcement and connecting with local victim service agencies, like a rape crisis center.
To learn more about Seek Then Speak, visit www.seekthenspeak.org.
If you are an organization that serves sexual assault survivors, such as a rape crisis center, law enforcement agency, or college Title IX office, you can apply for a no-cost subscription to the agency-facing portal Victim Link to bring Seek Then Speak to your community at no cost. Learn more at www.victimlink.com/nocost.