Abuse is rampant and a major part of the culture of the United States. You would think that the military would be one of the leaders in clamping down on this criminal behavior, but that is not the case. With all of their rigid rules and supposedly highly touted attention to “Chain of Command” reporting, this would seem to be a natural place to bring justice to victims. Sadly, it is just an annoyance for them to have to deal with.
What the military does do when a woman comes forward about being raped is to blame her, not the perpetrator. Sound familiar? Are we still living in the 1800s? It seems so.
An article on CNN.com titled Rape victims say military labels them ‘crazy’1 states that the military Chain of Command can’t be bothered with the attacks on females. As stated in the article, “Despite the Defense Department’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, there were 3,191 military sexual assaults reported in 2011. Given that most sexual assaults are not reported, the Pentagon estimates the actual number was probably closer to 19,000.”
That comes to about 52 sexual assaults per day!
A former Company Commander in the Marines and Executive Director of Service Women’s Action Network said she sees a pattern of the military using psychiatric diagnoses to get rid of women who report sexual assaults. She states, “It’s convenient to sweep this under the rug. It is also extremely convenient to slap a false diagnosis on a young woman…and then just get rid of her so they don’t have to deal with that problem in their unit. And, unfortunately, a lot of sexual assault survivors are considered problems.”
The perpetrator’s behavior is not a problem, just the victim’s.
Heaven help the woman if it were made known she was sexually abused as a child. In that case, being raped by a fellow soldier just means that you have a “pre-existing personality disorder.” CNN states, “Military records show the personality disorder is being used disproportionately on women. In the military’s eyes, a personality disorder diagnosis is a pre-existing condition and does not constitute a service-related disability. This means sexual assault victims with personality disorder discharges don’t receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs to help them with their trauma.”
In other words, the victims have been blamed and treated unfairly twice. Having grown up in a military family in the 50s and 60s, I see the military’s conduct in this area as business as usual. I don’t care how insistent they appear to be when confronted by investigations. The bottom line is that until Commanders are held liable for their negligence in attending to these assaults appropriately, nothing will change.