Few male military sexual assault victims come forward

Posted on December 10, 2014

Male victims of sexual violence remain a largely hidden in society. While the media gives more attention to the issue of male victimization than before, many men and boys continue to remain silent. This is particularly true of men in the military.

Despite representing the majority of rape victims, assaulted men are significantly less likely to seek help or report their assaults:

According to an anonymous survey released last week by the Pentagon, nearly 1 percent of males in the U.S. military said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact, compared to 4.3 percent of women. That equates to about 10,500 men and 8,500 women. Yet only 14 percent of assaults reported last year involved male victims.

Afraid to be seen as victims or as weak or gay, men in the hyper-masculine military culture often don’t feel comfortable reaching out for help or reporting sexual assaults. Over the past year, though, the services have increased efforts to reach out to male victims, urging them to come forward so they can receive treatment and so officials can go after perpetrators.

The military asked Jim Hopper, a leading expert on male victimization, for assistance in providing support services for men. It apparently took the military some time to realize they should tailor the services for male victims rather than simply making everything gender-neutral. One can guess from whom the military got the latter idea.

Hopper noted to military leaders that they should also change how men can access the services:

Hopper said he told military officials they also needed to better promote their confidential hotline because many men “are not going to feel safe as the first step going and talking to someone on their base.”

That would help a great deal, particularly given that some of those providing support services may be men and women the troops interact with on a daily basis. The confidential hotline allows the men a way to talk about what happened without fear of exposure. The latter is of greater concern for many male victims because they, unlike their female counterparts, often share the same quarters as their assailants. As a result, male victims face a greater risk of retaliation and discovery. The anonymity would offer some protection.

However, the military still has more to do. It is unlikely that only 1% of men in the military are victims of sexual violence. That number probably represents the men willing to view their experiences as abuse and those willing to acknowledge it happened at all. It will take time to work through many of the stigmas attached to male victimization.

That said, the reported cases among male sailors and Marines tripled in the last year. That is a testament to what happens when people take sexual violence against men seriously.

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6 thoughts on “Few male military sexual assault victims come forward

  1. “they should tailor the services for male victims rather than simply making everything gender-neutral.”

    Kinda obvious really… Why is this so hard to “get”? When there are special focuses on women of color, Spanish language services, Hmong women, “sensitivities” to cultures of religion, country, immigrants, economics, age, and more.

    And this is what I hoped to do in the “rape crisis center” where I trained and volunteered… and it was working really well, but no, they placed adjudicated sex offenders in the male survivor group against my objections and told me and everyone “all male survivors have perpetrated.”, etc. until I and everyone else was driven away in fear and disillusionment.

    Feminists have no business being involved in services to men. At. All.

    Reporting is progress. I hope they begin to actual get help. Rape is a serious crime because of all the likely sad and harmful effects that play out in a victim’s life and everyone around him, especially unaddressed. That hurts society and everyone.

  2. Pingback: Rape in the UK Military | Toy Soldiers

  3. I reckon that this is a step in the right direction.

    But feminists have no place in ruling the response to sexual abuse because their way of dealing with it is way off. Society doesn’t understand sexual abuse, and feminists have come up with their own ideas in the 1970s, never to change them again (e.g. Rape culture/rape as an oppression system).

    It’s evident in their own way of thinking or talking: teach-men-not-to-rape or don’t-forget-to-not-rape, or the unpardonable nobody who suggested telling small boys ‘don’t-rape-anyone-asshole’ is somehow an acceptable way to talk to small children. And should one object? One is strawmanned as a ‘whiner’ or an ‘MRA’ at best, or a ‘misogynist’ or ‘rape apologist at worst.

    Feminism should stand aside, forget their utopias, and let the experts deal with the problem, for all our sakes.

  4. If you coddle a male rape victim, you’re only going to make him feel even more weak and helpless and less like a man. Men are not victims, by definition. We fight back. It’s part of the definition of masculinity. If you destroy masculinity, you destroy men (and you destroy society). Of course, this seems to be what feminism wants to do (destroy the entire human race).

  5. Matthew, it is not “coddling” a male victim to offer him support. This is not treating him as weak or helpless or less like a man. This is helping him deal with a difficult, traumatic problem. It is no different than offering a man therapy if he loses a limb.

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