Rape Statistics and What the U.S. Military Should Be Doing

In an article that I found on alternet.com written by a woman named Rose Aguilar, the author states marks the shocking increase in rape allegations in the U.S. military. “In 2003, Congress began requiring the Department of Defense to report the number of sexual assault cases on file. In 2005, military criminal investigators received 2,374 allegations of sexual assault involving members of the armed forces worldwide. “That number is a 40 percent increase from 2004. The ’04 number is a 25 percent increase from 2003, so that’s a 65 percent increase in two years.”

Ms. Magazine online also has an article about rape statistics in the U.S. military. Lara Friedrich and Anne Decleene write: “In May, Sanchez proposed legislation to replace the military’s antiquated sexual- assault laws — enacted in the 1950s — with the type of civilian laws now in use at the federal level and in 38 states. Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice doesn’t recognize date or acquaintance rape, and it still places undue emphasis on a woman’s behavior rather than on the perpetrator’s, according to Sanchez.”

After reading these two articles, and considering the other research I have been doing, I get the sense that rape is something that just happens to you if you are a woman in the U.S. army, that you should suck it up, and that you should keep your mouth shut about it. The army is just one more arena in which some men feel as though they can physically and psychologically intimidate and dominate women. How do you fight an enemy, when those who are supposed to be your friends and comrades also threaten you? Rape in the military is not just a problem because of the physical and psychological trauma that it inflicts upon the victims, but also because it threatens the stability and the integrity of the army as a whole. As we have seen in some of the previous articles on the blog, the women are afraid to take showers and get water late at night because they fear rape. The culture of rape in the army is weakening our troops. I imagine that the immediate response to this comment may be: women shouldn’t serve in the military.

My response to this comment: If we were to punish women by not letting them serve their country because men are committing criminal acts, rape, against them, we would be condoning crime and not serving justice, we would be letting sexual desire supercede law, and we would be admitting that “might=right” or more specifically, “penis=right”. Learning more and more about the incidents of rape the military have made me angry against the larger tyranny against women. Perhaps the transmen have it right. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This act of becoming the other makes a person less prone to being attacked by the other. But my other response; fight. Fight the complacency in the army and the acceptance of male sexual power. The military needs to train its men to fight their sexual urges. The military needs to train its men to view these women not as the other, but as their fellow human beings and fellow soldiers. Does this sound a little too warm and fuzzy for you? I believe that education is the way to solving most problems, and this one is no exception. The only thing that I fear, is that we will never be able to get men to see women as equal, perhaps because human nature, most notably sexual desire, will always win in the end. Call me an idealist, but I say we can stop rape in the military, even if a little social conditioning is involved.

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32 Comments

Filed under female soldiers, Iraq War, politcal correctness, rape, rape statistics, transmen, U.S. Military, women in the military

32 responses to “Rape Statistics and What the U.S. Military Should Be Doing

  1. olivia

    I saw a report about women being raped in the military and i brought it up in school and people were condoning it. I was repulsed by what i heard. The other kids were saying that the male soldiers don’t get any now that their away from their families so it’s okay. Someone needs to change the way these kids think!!

  2. JANIE E GAUTHIER

    RAPE IS NEVER OK FOR ANY REASON, OLVIA.
    STALKING IS NOT OK, SEXUAL HARRASSMENT IS NOT OK. THERE ARE CIVILIAN LAWS.

    • Nadie Wapun

      Unfortunately, civilian laws don’t always apply to military. The military operates under its own code of military justice. The laws in this code need to reflect our US criminal law standards. I remember in high school when my teacher told me “boys will be boys” when I reported stalking and harassment. Unfortunately, the laws in the military reflect this thinking. I told my teacher girls will be girls too. When I had to protect myself I fought back and I went over my teachers head. I got this kid thrown out of school and the teacher fired for passively allowing it. This is how strong the action needs to be. Women need to be allowed to defend themselves, and file charges and people that tell the women to accepted it should be discharged. This can only happen if congress forces the military to change their code of justice. When that happens will justice be served in the Military! Every family member of every military member needs to make these requests of their congressional representatives and senators.

  3. Ben

    “That number is a 40 percent increase from 2004. The ‘04 number is a 25 percent increase from 2003, so that’s a 65 percent increase in two years.”

    Um, no. That’s a 75 percent increase in two years. 100 percent x 125 percent x 140 percent = 175 percent.

    Something this big and important should have the right numbers attached to it.

  4. Margaret

    I’d like to address the language being used to talk about rape. “Sexual urges” really have nothing to do with any of it. In fact it is a crime of anger and rage, not lust- which is what the author suggests. Also, there is nothing in human nature that keeps men in a superior role, it is something that is taught and accepted as the norm. I hear the passion in this writer’s voice, and I’m glad to have anyone standing against violence toward women, but this writing is not helpful against the injust women in the military face and is full of misinformed cliches and stereotypes. Besides, as Ben pointed out, the statistical errors, obviously little research has been done prior to the writing of this article, and it is only a deception of what is really happening to women in the military.

    • Sam Rushing

      You’re absolutley correct! I’m a retired soldier. For the guys who attack military women, they are seeking to dominate them. They aren’t after sex; they want to prove their power and that women are physically, inferior no matter what the official policies say about equality. Resentment and anger are the motivating factors, not sexual desire.

  5. Pingback: Moral Leadership « Little Alex in Wonderland

  6. Laura

    “Rape in the military is not just a problem because of the physical and psychological trauma that it inflicts upon the victims, but also because it threatens the stability and the integrity of the army as a whole.”

    While I can appreciate the point behind this article, some parts of it bother me. One, the military consists of many branches, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Two, rape and sexual assualt don’t happen only in counrty. It can be aboard ships, in the barracks, in the US and overseas. Three, it isn’t only the males sexually assaulting the females, it goes both ways and around again. A male can be a perpatrator or a victim just the same as a female. Four, rape is NOT about sex, it is about power and control, the feeling of power that comes from controling and forcing someone to do something against their will. Five, just becuase our Articles were written in a different time does NOT mean that our judicial procedings haven’t changed. Yes, the Article may read one way be there are policies and regulations that add to the Articles that make it easier for victims to speak up and get help. Six, and this is a big one, just because YOU get the feeling doesn’t make it fact, do MORE research!!! Like talking to someone who serves or has served, rape doesn’t “just happen” to females in the Armed Services, it is perpatrated and IF reported handled. The challenge is to get females AND males in the military to report the assaults to the right people, and there are people. I know that if I were assaulted, I’d rather report it to military authorities over civilian in a heart beat, I’d get better care and MORE reporting options, and the males that I serve with would not only support me but they would probably also kill my attacker. So please before you condem our military, please talk to those who are in it and get a better understanding of what kind of people are serving.

    • Navy Vet

      “I know that if I were assaulted, I’d rather report it to military authorities over civilian in a heart beat, I’d get better care and MORE reporting options, and the males that I serve with would not only support me but they would probably also kill my attacker.” I’m sorry Laura, that’s just not how it works in our military. Yes, I know because I served for seven years. It’s a wonderful thought that the men who serve next to you would back you up when such a horrible act was commited against you, but they don’t. It’s just not the men they have been raised in the military to be. They were taught to question any accusation you make as a false one. They were taught that military woman are not truthful about such things and that a large number of woman will make claims about rape for their own misrepresented purposes. It often is a question of authentity if you do not come out of the ordeal with cuts and bruises. Semen is not enough, because it is her word against his and she just might be “getting back at him” for something. Often cases go unreported because so many woman try their hardest to become accepted by their fellow brothers in arms that something like this would ruin it for them. A rape happens once, but the struggle for integrity and sefl-worth are a daily struggle that often are destroyed by any claims a woman will make.

      • Traci

        Do you believe women should join the military? I’m a 17 year old girl wanting to serve my country like my father and grandfather, as an Officer Chaplain but I’m afraid of taking the risk of getting raped or beaten by comrades. Do you have any advice on what I should do or which branch I should join? Please help.

    • sodapop11

      According to the Huffington Post, of 2,280 cases where victims of rape or sexual assault within the U.S. military, committed by other members of the U.S. military, provided full accounts and evidence, only 317 were referred for court-martial and 247 were referred for non-judicial punishment, usually demotion or written reprimand. I believe the numbers are in reference to the 2008 Pentagon study.
      You have much better odds reporting to a civilian authority.
      Clearly getting victims to report it is not the only challenge.

  7. stephanie Visser

    I am one of those statistics. In fact I am case number: 77-CID023-15371-6E. The sexual assault on 9 April 1977. I was 20 years old and stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC. I was asleep in my room when I felt someone touching my hair. It took me a few seconds to realize what was happening. I tried to fight him off but his fists were hard and he had pressed him thumbs into my eyes, stuffed socks down my throat to muffle my scream. He beat me about the head and left ear. Before he left he had to remove a pair of manicuring scissors from my hair. Probably to snip a piece of my hair. there was a lot of evidence, semen, socks, toothpick, fingerprints. there was a line up but I could not recognize him as the room was dark and my hair was tangled in front of my face. But i knew that I wold know if voice. I was denied this and was told it would be against his rights. I was young and in shock but I felt they would find him. But they never did. I have a copy of the report with so many dark lines running through it. as the victim i’m not allowed to read the report, or the findings of the lie dector tests given to one of the suspects and the barracks guard. It took 19 years but I finally got counseling for PTSD. The event, though over 30 years ago is fresh in my mind. I can still feel it all. A recent foot surgery left me feeling helpless, thus nightmares began. On that early morning in 1977, Easter weekend I was beaten, strangled, suffocated, sodomized and raped. The doctor who examined me looked away in disgust. I had spoiled his holiday weekend.
    All these years, no closure and still so many unanswered questions. I was a good soldier. I was quiet and did my work. I was counting the days to complete my commitment. Back then there were no words for sexual harrassements.
    There was also a lot of racial tension. the person who raped me was black. I want to know his name. I want to know what became of him. I know he had raped others before me by some things he said before he left my room. Did this happen to you too? Sadly too, it put a wedge between myself and my family especially my mother. She felt such tremendous guilt that I had gone into the army to save for college that she was often hostile and distant to me. Before she died last year she said, “Oh Stephanie, I’m so sorry.” If you were at ft Bragg during this time and know anything, please contact me. I was assigned to HHD, 7th Transportation Bn.
    So many years I have spent with sleep problems, low self esteem, flashbacks, anxiety and most of all depression. I just want to know who he was.
    there were two names Blackwell and PVT Gill. I believe the latter was the man who raped me.

  8. khgciycjhb

    power to you sister for sharing your story. I can imagine it not being the easiest thing in the world to do. you can bring much awareness to this issue that is very needed. I am so sorry you had to go through something so violent, dehumanizing and traumatic.

  9. Rape in the military is an issue that is covered up for the sake of saving face and keeping “morale” up. That’s why we’ve started a campaign called A Black Rose to raise awareness for this atrocity. Please visit http://www.ablackrose.org to find out how you can request your rose.

  10. Leah

    Rape is about anger and rage but when it is date or acquaintance rape (which is often the case in the military) it can be a sexual thing but isn’t always. I think that every woman that is planning on going into the miliatry needs to take a class that teaches you how to get out of a situation where somebody is on top of you. I am currantly a black belt and that is one area of self defense that I believe that all women need to learn and practice. It may have made all the differance for somebody like Stephanie. I wish you the best and may you find who did that to you. It is never too late to learn some self defense. It won’t take away what happened but it could impower you and give you the comfort that it will never happen again!

  11. Beatriz Castilla Madrazo

    It is very sad to hear that ex British soldiers will be able to go onto teaching after a two-years course. So from handling weapons and raping, to teach and support naive and innocent children in schools? a very savage, frighting and insulting idea…NO THANK YOU !!!!!

  12. Pingback: September 20th: Very Few Likely to Ask or Tell «

  13. cbinTH

    Beatriz, no.11, you’re ignorant and nasty. Besides the fact that soldiers have often gone on to be teachers – think of the 1950’s stereotype of the teacher who’d served in the war – it’s just absurd to suppose that rape is normal in the British army.

    I don’t suppose you’ll ever read this, but, just for the record, you shouldn’t dehumanise men like that.

    • Traci

      I don’t think she was talking about every man in the British Army… just those who do rape women. She’s right, rapists shouldn’t become teachers of children. I don’t believe everyone in any Army is a rapist though. Just saying…

      • Tina

        I understand why you believe nobody in the military is a rapist, but just because the majority of soldiers are good people there are still those of them them who aren’t. Rapist can be anywhere, even the military.

      • CBinTH

        Hye Traci
        No, you’re wrong, Beatriz was quite clearly subscribing to an ‘anti-war’ stereotype that all soldiers or servicemen are rapist murderers, and by implication that our forces are doing just that, at will, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and that we are morally ‘bad’ while our enemies are morally ‘good’.

        She quite specifically said that a UK government plan to encourage ex-soldiers to become teachers would mean that rapists and murderers would become teachers.

        As a civilian myself, I can’t offer an opinion beyond what I’ve read. Of course, somebody in the services would have a purely subjective opinion – beyond what they’d read. The studies and their methodologies appear vague and inconclusive.

        To your idea of joining the armed forces as chaplain, this seems a laudable aim, especially since it would presumably require you to get an education first, in the form of a theology degree. You can always change your mind. If you join an armed service it does appear that you will increase the risk that you’ll be assaulted or raped – but that risk should still be low. Since most such assaults involve friends, lovers and sexual partners, you can reduce risk by being selective with these. As a chaplain, this would be appropriate anyway. Another thing to consider is whether you’ll have the strength of will and conviction to avoid both alcohol and drugs in their entirety. This will be difficult in that environment unless you make it a tabboo for yourself. But, again, as a chaplain and a woman it should be easier to abstein from alcohol and drugs.

        If you want your life to include alcohol, drugs, (and also multiple sexual partners), then the military is the perfect place for you, but it will mean a much, much, higher risk of sexual assault. This isn’t to legitimise such assaults, in all their many varieties, but it is to say that drinking with young men will tend to lead to amours, and that, statistically most rapists and assaulters appear to be friends and sexual partners of the victim. Also, a woman who’s happily drunk tends to broadcast signals of sexual availability and enthusiasm, which will attract the worst as well as the best sort of man.

        I’m trying to divorce the facts from my own prudery, here. It is simply true that your vulnerability will depend on what sort of chaplain you are.

        Whatever you do, good luck.

  14. ASTAR

    Anyone who has joined the military that is woman, shouldn’t have to expect to get raped or assualted!
    Although that is the stigma of women joining into any branch.
    Sadly, what can anyone really do to stop or prevent this?
    Women will never be treated as equals to men. As disgusting as it may be, it is in fact true.

  15. Nadia

    I am the same as Traci, im 22 and thinking of joining the military.. I only kno of 2 females in my own life that have served, so i decided to do some research of my own simply google “women in the millitary” i was shocked to see how many survivor stories appeared of women being attacked by fellow soliders and trusted CO’s.. how can this be true.. nonetheless even possible?? i came across the story of La’vena Johnson and it broke my heart 19yrs frm a military family set to serve, raped and murdered in iraq.. they beat her broke her nose her neck and burned her genitals.. the military reported suicide and closed the case… it really gives me second thoughts.. especially since alot of victims are young enlistee’s like myself.
    I want to sever my country.. I want to defend our rights.. I want to protect my people…I want to be more than just a pretty face.. but I don’t want to be raped and murdered in the process.

  16. Welcome to the world of Military Sexual Trauma.
    As a past victim of sexual assault during my service in the United States Air Force, I have started a campaign called A Black Rose: Campaign for Awareness. Our focus is to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault, harassment, abuse, stalking, etc. faced by serving members of our armed forces. Our philosophy is that the men and women who serve our nation should not have to worry about being assaulted by their fellow servicemen and women. We invite service members and veterans to request a rose in their honor that represents their trauma and quest for recovery. We hope to put a story to every statistic and make this issue impossible to ignore.
    For more info , support and help, you can contact us at ablackrose.org.

  17. Patsy

    Women have been assulted in the military for many years. These women joined the service for education and to better there lives. I was in the military in 1970 and was raped several times, when brought to the commanders attention he said deal with it. I was medically discharged when I found out I was pregnant, the doctors wanted to abort my baby and the chaplian stated get out and give the child up and then return to the servicel. I was medically discharged and never received help from the military, even a little. I was forched to go on welfare at the time. The rapist (several) were able to stay in the military and complete their military careers. I was forced out and not given a chance to stay in, this shows that they think its the womens fault. Since then I have not been able to trust anyone not even today and its been 41 years. I wont go out alone and its been a nightmare. I would love to hear from other women who have had similar problems. I have had so many problems from trusting and afraid of my shadow. When my daughter asked about her father I had to tell her the truth, I have no idea who he is. This hurt me dearly. Mentally I made up a pretend life to cover what had happen. I feel the men should have had some repercussion and not a pat on the back. I would like to hear from other women with the same problems. Thank you for listening it feels good to express what has happened. I am finally over the bitterness but the pain in my heart and the things that happened to be after leaving the service will never leave my heart or mind.

  18. Aaron

    I don’t know why I am getting so worked up reading the ignorance of this post and vast majority of the commenters… I should come to expect this from the American public; but I suppose being an active duty service member I like to believe there is still some intelligence out there. It makes me feel like my service is for a reason. I digress; if you are one of those who believes social conditioning is not taking place in the military, I invite you to attend some SHARP training with me. The emphasis is no longer placed on solely convincing potential perpetrators that rape is wrong, but instead is focusing on the concept of “no innocent bystanders.” Which means we are being trained to look for the signs and intervene to prevent a situation before it happens. It also focuses on victims reporting the crimes. I hate to break it to (seemingly) vast majority of the commenters, but there’s no magical way to prosecute someone if the crime is not reported. Victims have to report and that is a major part of this training all Army members have to attend every quarter. It is fostering a safe reporting environment. So everyone is being held accountable. It is actually a really good program, and yes, it’s a shame it’s taken so long, but solutions are taking place. And perpetrators are absolutely getting punished. Investigations are very thorough, to get to the bottom of the he said/she said. So before you say the military is simply accepting rape as a fact of life, all men in the military are rapists or accept rapists, do some fucking research and know what you’re talking about. There was one person who said she served for seven years and men in the military will not have the victim’s back, are raised by the military to question the authenticity of the victim’s claims, but not based on one single fact. It sounded a lot like (as most of the comments do) feminist conjecture based off of skewed perspective and ignorance. So that is straight up bullshit (not to sugar coat it). The military absolutely takes this seriously and is molding the culture within our ranks to prevent rapes and report an prosecute when it happens.

    • Dolly

      Son, I’m sure you believe you know it all. Young people usually do. But you are blinded by your limited vision, abundant ignorance of military history, and distinct lack of understanding and compassion. If there is a sustained training program now, it is thanks to the thousands of female and male rape survivors who came before you who had the guts to speak the truth despite all attempts to silence us.
      I’m a retired Army master sergeant. I began as a WAC (Women’s Army Corps) in 1970 and retired from the Army in 1995. I experienced more than you’ll ever read in a history book. For your information, us old survivors DID report rapes, in great detail. In fact, I even reported some interesting bite marks and gouges I left on my perpetrator … to the CQ, my commander, my supervisor, and my bay mates. The dipstick was never prosecuted.
      In the early 1970’s, however, not all of us reported resulting pregnancies; as pregnant WACs, we had to chose between suicide, perhaps returning home supposedly shame to carry the baby to term, or going to the man off post for an illegal abortion which, unbeknownst to us at the time, resulted in sterilization for life.
      After learning of the failings of the system that was supposed to protect us and the woefully ineffective self-defense class we attended in BCT, many survivors learned to carry something very sharp that could be easily concealed even in our uniforms: a hat pin, a penknife, or even a highly sharpened fingernail file (which I carry to this day, in case you’re wondering).
      From my first enlistment until the time of my retirement, absolutely nothing changed in regards to military policy, other than that the single mother after the 1970’s was allowed to remain on active duty as long as she had a back-up plan for somebody to take full possession of her child when she went on unaccompanied tours. Few perpetrators were prosecuted, requesting any form of counselling was as foolish as asking for all the gold at Ft Knox, and rape kits remained nearly nonexistent. We created secret support groups, just as we formed our own cancer support groups.
      My perpetrator jumped me from behind one night in 1971 and threw my glasses into the parade field that was in between the Chemical School and WAC Detachment at Ft McClellan; without my glasses, I couldn’t see his face. For the longest time, all I wanted to do was see his face … and perhaps spit in his eye. But that will never happen; he will forever remain a blank.
      As bad as it is for military women, I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it is for men who have been sodomized or raped in the military.
      I finally obrained counselling (AFTER I retired) at the VA, and am at long last happily married to a Vietnam Seabee Vet; he has PTSD. We understand each other’s little quirks. We’re quite a pair … but very happy together and our love keeps us alive and young … well … young-ish. I continue to pray for those women (and men) who were not so fortunate as myself.
      For Patsy, I say hold your daughter close and be grateful for every second you’ve been able to spend with her. Continue to go in for counseling at the VA or Vet Center whenever you need it. We all have relapses sometimes.
      If you run into anybody being especially haunted by the past, please share the Suicide Prevention Life Line, 1.800.273.8255 … it applies to civilians and veterans alike.
      No, Aaron, we survivors never forget. I can still remember every detail … the fragrance of the Alabama fir trees and the odor of alcohol on the dipstick’s breath, the long damp grass, the murky, moonless sky, the 45’s repeatedly blaring through the open WAC Detachment windows (“ABC” and “Smoke on the Water”), the time was 2230 because I had just missed the last on-post shuttle bus for the night when I left work on the hill and had to walk home, the month was September, the clothes I wore… everything except the face I couldn’t see; maybe not seeing his face was actually a blessing.

      Just one more message for Patsy, or anybody else stationed at Fort McClellan. You need to Google Ft McClellan Agent Orange. If you’re wondering why you have diabetes, Parkinson’s, or one of a wide variety of cancers (like the small cell lung cancer I had), be aware that the Federal government has finally acknowledged that the Agent Orange produced by Monsanto just off post in Anniston … and allowed to leach into the ground and river … gave us the same illnesses that Vietnam vets have been experiencing. A service-connected condition for an illness on the Agent Orange list could entitle you to compensation, medical care, medicines, etc., and maybe a little peace of mind in knowing that if we have one of the diseases on the Agent Orange List, this too was NOT our fault.

  19. Patty

    Rape in the military has been around since the 60’s, I found that most of the company commanders at the time put all the blame on the female soldiers. I was raped three times and instead of help I was called a slut and a few other choice words. I got pregnant by one of the rapes and was told I had to leave the military. I received an honorable out but the men were allowed to stay in and finish their careers with atta boys. I come from a long line of military and love this country but I feel that if I am forced to give up my career so should the men involved. The commander should also be punished for allowing this and doing nothing.

  20. You have to ask,how predators enter military service? They do not join the service and become rapists. They are what they are before they enter the ranks. Recruiters are required to make their numbers since the elimination of the draft. Therefore individuals with felonynrecords were able to join as magically their criminal records disappeared. This needs to,be addressed yet I have not heard anyone discussing preventing these animals into the military.

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