Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Most sexual assaults in military affect men, Pentagon report shows

Sexual assault has emerged as one of the defining issues for the military this year. Reports of assaults are up, as are questions about whether commanders have taken the problem seriously. Bills to toughen penalties and prosecution have been introduced in Congress.

But in a debate that has focused largely on women, this fact is often overlooked: The majority of service members who are sexually assaulted are men.

In its latest report, 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.

"It's easy for some people to single out women and say: 'There's a small percentage of the force having this problem,' " said 1st Lt. Adam Cohen, who says he was raped by a superior officer. "No one wants to admit this problem affects everyone. Both genders, of all ranks."

Though women, who represent about 15 percent of the force, are significantly more likely to be sexually assaulted in the military than men, experts say assaults against men have been vastly underreported. For that reason, the majority of formal complaints of military sexual assault have been filed by women, even though the majority of victims are thought to be men.

Dr. Carol O'Brien, chief of post-traumatic stress disorder programs at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center in Pinellas County, which has a residential treatment program for sexually abused veterans, said, "Men tend to feel a great deal of shame, embarrassment and fear that others will respond negatively."

The Defense Department says it is developing plans to encourage more men to report the crime. "A focus of our prevention efforts over the next several months is specifically geared toward male survivors and will include why male survivors report at much lower rates than female survivors, and determining the unique support and assistance male survivors need," Cynthia Smith, a department spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Thomas Drapac says he was raped on three occasions by higher-ranking enlisted sailors in Norfolk, Va., in 1966. He said he had been drinking each time and feared that if he told prosecutors they would assume it was consensual sex. Parts of his story are corroborated in Department of Veterans Affairs records.

"If you made a complaint, then you are gay and you're out and that's it," he said.

Most sexual assaults in military affect men, Pentagon report shows 06/23/13 [Last modified: Sunday, June 23, 2013 9:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. United Airlines CEO to investors: We'll be more focused on customers

    Airlines

    CHICAGO — The CEO of United Airlines assured shareholders Wednesday that the company is doing all it can to be more customer-friendly since video surfaced of a passenger being violently ejected from a plane last month.

    Chicago Police arrest protesters after they sat down in a busy street blocking traffic outside a United Airlines shareholders meeting Wednesday, in downtown Chicago. The people who were arrested were protesting the low pay of employees of companies that provide meals and other services for United Airlines at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
[Associated Press]
  2. 6 essential things you'll need before going to a theme park this summer

    Florida

    With Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer, we're back with a new a guide to what's new or noteworthy in Central Florida attractions.

  3. BREAKING NEWS: High winds force Sunshine Skyway to close as storms move in to Tampa Bay

    Public Safety

    The Sunshine Skyway bridge has been closed because of the weather conditions, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has announced.

    The Sunshine Skyway was closed Wednesday afternoon because of high winds. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times


  4. 'Biggest winner' of session, Richard Corcoran, paid $20k to the guy who named him biggest winner

    Blogs

    In the final days of the 2017 legislative session, as Tallahassee obsessed over whether a budget deal might happen or implode like Frank Artiles' political career, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran decided he could use some friendly P.R. Corcoran's political committee, Florida Roundtable, paid $20,000 to Extensive …

  5. Clearwater officer fired after investigation reveals use of unnecessary force on teen

    Public Safety

    A Clearwater police officer was fired after an internal investigation found he used unnecessary force on a teenager in custody, the agency said Wednesday.