“We’re seeing a bigger slice of the problem — in other words, more people coming forward to participate in the justice system, to get the help that they need, and to give us a chance to hold offenders appropriately accountable,” – Dr. Nathan W. Galbreath. On May 1st, 2018 the DoD (Department of Defense) released their annual report on sexual assault cases in the military. The report stated that service member reporting had increased by about ten percent from the prior fiscal year, this was across all four military branches. In the report the department had stated that they had received 6,769 reports of sexual assault involving service members as either victims or the subject of criminal investigation, this is a 9.7 percent increase over the 6,172 reports made in fiscal year 2016. The DoD recently conducted a scientific survey of the military population that shows while the number of sexual assault reports are continuing to increase, fewer service members are experiencing sexual assault.
With the Army’s training on sexual assault prevention, more and more leadership are becoming more aware of how important reporting sexual assault cases can be. “We attribute this largely to people hearing their commanders and their leadership talking about how important this is … how that no one should have to tolerate sexual assault … to come forward help that you need so we can get you the restorative care that you require and then also to hold defenders appropriately accountable,” said Nathan Galbreath, the deputy director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. With leadership becoming more aware of how important reporting a sexual assault can be it is making soldiers feel more comfortable with reporting, it makes them feel like their report will be taken seriously and that justice will be sought out for them. With the continuousness and constant training and awareness brought to the importance of sexual assault cases, more soldiers will feel as though they can come forward with their cases past or recent to seek out justice.
The increase in female leadership has played a huge role with the increase of reports. Females feel as though they have more of a chance at a fair assessment and investigation with having more female leadership with in their ranks. When the draft ended in 1973, women represented just 8 percent of the officer corps and 2 percent of the enlisted part. The numbers have increased to 18 percent making up the officer corps and 16 percent making up the enlisted, which is a significant increase. With this increase in female leadership, officer and enlisted, female soldiers feel more comfortable and less judged when making a report. As we continue to see an increase with female leadership there will continue to be an increase on reported sexual assault cases because, female soldiers will feel more safe and pleased with coming to females with sensitive issues such as sexual assault. With the training and new system in place members of the military are becoming more courageous and brave to share their experiences.
Over the last few years there has been a gradual increase of reports on sexual assault. There is a lot of training that is given to command staff as well as lower enlisted. “Over the last decade the department has made progress, fewer service members experience sexual assault, more service members than ever are making the courageous decision to report their experiences and to receive restorative require,” said Dr. Elizabeth Van Winkle, the Pentagon’s principal director for force resiliency. With service members becoming more courageous on reporting their experiences so that they can receive the restorative health they require it is showing the increase in sexual assault reports.
The increase in sexual assaults should not be spun in a good way, while sexual assaults continue unabated. The military cannot solely rely on the increase in reporting as a sign of progress though, the numbers could either mean that people are becoming more confident in the system, more comfortable to come forward with their experiences and that justice will be done, however it could also mean that more assaults are occurring- or both. While the increase in sexual assault cases could simply mean that members are simply coming forward to seek the treatment that they need, that they feel like they will be less judged by speaking with someone of the same sex, that they feel like their case will be taken more seriously with the new system in place. It is something that the military as a whole need to continue to strive to reduce and prevent the case from happening.