What do you think about when you reflect on the military? Do you have thoughts of security and hope? How about thoughts of positivity and pride? Often times we associate the military with these qualities because we appreciate what service members pledged to do for the United States, but there are issues within the system that ought to be battled just as hard as any war.
According to a web article posted on the Department of Defense website, since May 2018 there have been 6,769 reports of sexual assault; this confirms a nearly 10 percent increase since the reported 6,172 reports of sexual assault in 2017.
Often times women and men do not report sexual assault out of fear of reprisal or the lack of confidence in the judicial system. Despite this fact, service members across all branches of the military have made reports of sexual assault. The military has a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office in Washington, D.C., that has a plan of action in place for service members who have experienced sexual assault.
According to the article by Lisa Ferdinando, the director of the office, Ann M. Burkhardt, told reporters, “the department encourages reporting of sexual assaults so that service members can be connected with restorative care and that perpetrators can be held appropriately responsible.”
As an eye witness of a sexual assault that took place on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, I want to provide some insight on the effects this has had on the victim. My friend (who would like to remain anonymous) was assaulted at a Halloween party in 2017.
According to Rape Crisis Midwest, 85 percent of victims know their attacker (acquaintances, associates and friends). The victim was assaulted by the person who planned the party and invited us. The day after the assault, I had to walk her through what I saw because she was too intoxicated to remember; she was devastated. The rape was committed by someone nearly 10 years older than her and he had a higher military ranking than her; above all, she trusted her attacker.
The victim experienced thoughts of suicide, reprisal and extreme depression, so she opted to participate in some restorative care programs offered by the military. The assault was reported and went to a court marshall, where the perpetrator was found guilty of sexual assault.
“Every sexual assault in the military is a failure to protect the men and women who have entrusted us with their lives,” Ann M. Burkhardt said. “We will not rest until we eliminate this crime from our ranks.”
Listen to the interview HERE.