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. Plan your weekend Aug. 18-20: Elvis in concert, Jason Aldean, Monster Jam Triple Threat, Sing-Along Grease

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    The king

    Elvis: Live in Concert: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and Ruth Eckerd Hall will have a Graceland-produced Elvis concert on a movie screen, accompanied by a full live orchestra. Graceland calls it the closest audiences …

    Handout photos of Elvis: Live in Concert, a tour spectacle featuring a live orchestra backing the voice of Elvis Presley, projected onto a movie screen. The tour comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on 8/18/17. Credit: Graceland.
  2. Woman convicted in murder of 18-year-old with cerebral palsy gets lighter term

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Linda Bonck, a 90-pound Chamberlain High School senior with cerebral palsy, lived near Tampa's Lowry Park. She struggled to walk and talk but was known for being friendly and trusting of strangers until she vanished one day in 1992.

    Georgia Miller, 39, was convicted for the 1992 murder of Linda Bonck, an 18-year-old Chamberlain High School student who had cerebral palsy. Originally sentenced to life in prison, Miller was resentenced Wednesday to 65 years, the result of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that found it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life. With gain time, Miller will be released from prison in the next six years. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  3. Boynton Beach woman arrested on DUI, child abuse charges

    Criminal

    A Boynton Beach woman was arrested Saturday and faces DUI and child abuse charges after she blew a .200 on a breath test with an unbuckled child in the backseat, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

    Brandy Lerma, 31 of Boynton Beach, was arrested on DUI and child abuse charges on Saturday. [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?

    Editorials

    The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the …

  5. Former WTSP employee sues station's parent companies for gender discrimination

    Civil

    A former director at WTSP-Ch. 10 has sued the station's parent companies, claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination.