Is Rape a Hazard of Military Service?
The Associated Press reports, “Sexual assaults in the military are a growing epidemic across the services and thousands of victims are still unwilling to come forward despite a slew of new oversight and assistance programs, according to a new Pentagon report. The report says that of the 1.4 million active duty personnel, 6.1 percent of active duty women — or 12,100 — say they experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012, a sharp increase over the 8,600 who said that in 2010.”
Do not confuse unwanted sexual contact with sexual assaults. Unwanted Sexual contact is defined as any non-consensual sexual contact, such as touching or fondling of breasts, buttocks, genitals or other sexual/”private” parts. Sexual assault is defined as any sexual activity involving a person who does not or cannot—due to alcohol, drugs, or some sort of incapacitation—consent, and rape may include partner or marital rape.
And unwanted sexual contact and/or sexual assault is not the fault of the victim.
However, there is an explanation for the increase is sexual assaults in the military and it has to do—in part—with the following facts. From 1973 to 2010 the number of active-duty enlisted women in the military increased from about 42,000 to 167,000—a 400% increase.
In addition, the 1991 Gulf War was the first major military deployment where female troops were integrated into almost every military unit, except for combat ground units—this brought more women into daily contact with men suffering from combat induced PTSD.
The increased number of women serving in the US military; integration into almost every military unit and increased numbers of deployments to combat zones leading to more combat induced PTSD explains the increase in sexual assaults in the military.
Why would more combat veterans with PTSD lead to unwanted sexual contact and/or sexual assault?
The Huffington Post reports, “Combat veteran with PTSD were more likely to commit crimes. … A 2009 study of enlisted combat Marines with at least one deployment demonstrated that those with PTSD were six times more likely to be busted on drug charges than Marines without PTSD, and 11 times more likely to be discharged for misconduct.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs says PTSD and alcohol use problems are often found together and alcohol can make PTSD symptoms worse. … If you have a drinking problem, you are more likely than others with your same sort of background to go through a psychological trauma. You may also have problems getting close to others. You may have more conflicts with those people to whom you are close.
In addition, “Alcohol and drugs dis-inhibit people,” says Paul Rinaldi, associate director of the Addiction Institute of New York City.” Source: CBS News
And Helen Benedict writes in her new book “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq—one of the symptoms of this disorder (PTSD) is uncontrollable violence (including increased incidents of rape).” Source: Womens enews.org
In conclusion: knowing the cause of this crime is not an excuse for the increase in sexual assaults in the US military, but knowing the cause offers possible solutions. One solution might be to remove military women from combat units and away from veterans—still serving in the military—who abuse alcohol/drugs while suffering from PTSD. Another solution might be through education, intervention and counseling programs for both women and men raising awareness of the problem along with methods to avoid or deal with it.
By The Numbers:
The Air Force has the highest percentage of women: 18% (11,665) are officers and 20% (51,614) are enlisted. In 2012, 790—1.2% of women serving in the Air Force—reported sexual assaults that include women and men.
Army: 15.5% officers (13,560) and 13.2% (59,672) enlisted. In 2012, 1,423—1.9%—reported sexual assaults that include women and men.
Navy: 15.1% (7,769) are officers and 15% (41,294) enlisted. In 2012, 726—1.5%—reported sexual assaults that include women and men.
Marine Corps: 5.8% (1,172) are officers and 6.2% (11,049) enlisted. In 2012, 435—3.6%—reported sexual assaults that include women and men.
Coast Guard: 14.9% (1,212) are officers and 11.6% (3,854) enlisted. One in three women as well as many men in the Coast Guard is going to fall victim of sexual assault and rape. Sources: Daily Kos.com and Slide Share.net
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