Sexual assault is an horrific act and is inflicted on nearly 240,000 American’s each year.
That means that every 2 minutes someone, somewhere, in the United States is either raped or has suffered inappropriate sexual contact.
Would it surprise you to know that many of these attacks are not on women but on men? Would it surprise you further to know that many of the men assaulted are done so right in our own military?
According to RAINN (Rape Abuse Incest National Network) 2.78 million U.S. men have been victimized in a sexual way or raped. In 2003 alone 1 in 10 victims of rape were men.
Male sexual assault is much more prevalent than many of us would have imagined. But, it is something that many men are reluctant or even refuse to discuses, especially our military troops because many are afraid to be seen as weak, gay or victims. This stigma very often prevents them from reaching out for help or even reporting the incident.
“Though survey results released by the Pentagon last week suggest the number of sexual assaults in the military has decreased, a new mater-of-fact way of asking questions has revealed far higher rates of penetrative sexual assault – such as rape and sodomy – than in previous years,” stated Stars and Stripes.
The new questioning technique revealed a rise in males willing to admit to sexual assault. The statistic grew from 11 percent to 35 percent experiencing unwanted sexual contact.
In its latest report on sexual assault, the Pentagon estimated that 26,000 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012, up from 19,000 in 2010. Of those cases, the Pentagon says, 53 percent involved attacks on men, mostly by other men.
In the 2014 Army report, for example, there were 2,113 troops who filed ‘unrestricted reports of sexual assaults.’ Of those 27 percent were male assaults.
The Marine Corps have also been trying to increase understanding of male sexual assault and encouraging men to come forward and break the barriers holding them back, according to Col. Scott Jensen, head of the Marine Corps’ Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch.
“Of the 844 official reports of sexual assault in the Marine Corps in 2014, 21 percent of victims were male, 74 percent were female and 5 percent did not self-identify in the report,” according to Stars and Stripes.
Getting the troops to come forward and talk about male sexual assault isn’t easy. But in order to raise awareness, Greg Nelson, did just that.
Nelson joined the Marines in 2007. On his 21st birthday and he decided to go out partying with his friends and got really drunk.
A man at the party offered to allow Nelson to ‘crash’ at his place and, at the urging of his friends, accepted the man’s invitation.
All Nelson remembers is getting sick “and being offered water that seemed to have white specks in it,” reports The Associated Press. “He said the man then offered him another glass of water and a pill that was supposedly Motrin.”
Things went a bit hazy after that. According to Nelson, he just blacked out and when he awoke felt as if he were ‘in a vegetative state’. Whatever Nelson had taken had apparently rendered him unable to move. Horrifyingly, a helpless Nelson was sexually assaulted by the very man who was supposedly helping him. Nelson blacked out for a second time.
Corporal Nelson left the Marine Corps in 2011.
It has been over the last year that the Military have increased their efforts to reach male victims of sexual assault and encouraging them to receive treatment. It would then be possible for the perpetrators to be gone after and brought to justice.
The question has been asked if society is ready to ‘talk’ about male sexual assault in the military. After all, they are big, strong soldiers so how can they be victims? Will it change how society views them? How could this happen to them?
“While people may question how a burly infantry officer or Marine could be assaulted, often he is drunk, passed out or asleep.” Just as women can be rendered unconscious or immobilized, so can men.
Is society ready to ‘talk’ about it?
I pose the question, How could we not?
As with sexual assault on women, the abuse on men is rarely about sex but about power and control. It has very little, if anything, to do with homosexual behavior.
“In May, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the military services to increase their efforts to encourage men to report assaults,” according to The Associated Press. “The services already had started putting together training materials aimed at male victims. Videos included scenarios of troops drinking and discussions about when to intervene and what to do if a perpetrator is of higher rank.”