Rape in the UK Military

Originally posted on December 4th, 2015

I wrote before about the problem of sexual violence in the United States military. It now appears the United Kingdom has a similar problem:

At least three rapes and 22 sexual assaults have been carried out against men in the UK military forces over the last two years, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed under a Freedom of Information request.

Last February, a 20-year-old man was subject to “assault by penetration” by a group of seven men, The Times reported.

In May, another soldier, 28, was attacked by his seven fellow servicemen, while three other young men in the army – one of them 18 years old – were the victims of penetrative sexual assaults over the last year.

All in all, there have been 25 assaults between October 2012 and October 2014, the report revealed.

The numbers were disclosed by the MoD under Freedom of Information requests. They refer only to information gathered by military police, meaning that the real numbers could be much higher.

A former army officer offers his views: Continue reading

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.

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The Code of Silence

Originally posed on May 21, 2013

Over the last week, sexual violence in the military received much media attention. This partly came out of two people in charge of handling sexual assault investigations facing their own charges of sexual assault. It also came from President Obama speaking about the issue during a press conference.

Yet one aspect of this scandal remains unspoken: men make up the majority of the victims. Look at the coverage of this topic, and one sees numerous discussions about protecting women, but little mention of protecting men. One hears from women who survived assaults, but not from men. Yes, occasionally someone will remember that “men can be victims too.” Yet that afterthought does not linger long, and soon the conversation goes back to women.

This is not to say that women do not face legitimate risks. It is absurd to think that servicewomen in the field will refrain from eating and drinking at night so they will not need to use the latrine and risk assault. Yet it is equally absurd to think that the majority of the victims of these assaults would go unmentioned because they are male.


More military men than women are sexually abused in the ranks each year, a Pentagon survey shows, highlighting the underreporting of male-on-male assaults.

When the Defense Department released the results of its anonymous sexual abuse survey this month and concluded that 26,000 service members were victims in fiscal 2012, which ended Sept. 30, an automatic assumption was that most were women. But roughly 14,000 of the victims were male and 12,000 female, according to a scientific survey sample produced by the Pentagon.

The statistics show that, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel begins a campaign to stamp out “unwanted sexual contact,” there are two sets of victims that must be addressed.

“It appears that the DOD has serious problems with male-on-male sexual assaults that men are not reporting and the Pentagon doesn’t want to talk about,” Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness.

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The Invisible War’s ironic invisible victims

Originally posted on February 11, 2013

The 2012 documentary The Invisible War delved into the topic of sexual violence in the military. The film won much acclaim and several awards. The film focuses primarily on female survivors, but also featured two male survivors. However, both of them have a complaint about the film:

“We’re being abandoned by (director) Kirby Dick. The guys feel betrayed,” said Michael Matthews, a 20-year Air Force veteran who, in the movie, tells of his 1974 gang rape by three other airmen. The publicity campaign hawking the film — and its Academy Award candidacy — includes a website that shows the faces of six female victims of military sexual assault, and no male survivors of that crime, as well as formal screenings to which only female victims have been asked to attend, Matthews said.

“What the (bleep) is that about? They don’t list any of the men on the website. He’s making millions of dollars but he’s not bringing any of the men to any these appearances all over the country like he’s bringing the women,” Matthews told NBC News. “I appreciate them putting us in the movie but, now, the men are not being represented at all. He has turned his back on us. And the movie, some of it, is hurting us.”

I have yet to watch the film, but based on the reviews I suspected that the focus was exclusively on women and that any men featured in the film were at best throwaway mentions. It is a truly terrible thing because most of the men raped in the military do not come forward. The film could have helped change that, particularly since the air and attitude of silence is so prevalent with male victims in the military.  Instead, it appears the filmmakers and their predominantly female executive producers decided to paint sexual violence in the military as something that only men do to only women.

And in case people think I am being unreasonable, there is this: Continue reading

Military rape and suicide

Originally posted on September 23, 2013

CNN ran an article about Jack Williams, a Vietnam-era veteran who faces numerous physical and mental health issues as a result of rape.

According to the article, Williams’ assistant drill sergeant raped then 18-year-old Williams several times while he was in training:

In the dead of night, the assistant drill sergeant woke Williams and ordered him to a second-floor office.

Williams stood before the sergeant in his government-issue T-shirt and boxers. He stared straight ahead, like he was supposed to. Suddenly, the sergeant choked him, threw him on the floor.

“He was all over me. He was raping me.”

After it was over, Williams cleaned himself up and went back to bed.

“In the military, everyone pulls together. I did not want to be the one who let everyone down.”

The article states that the cadets were cut off from the outside world. They were not allowed any calenders or watches, nor were they allowed to make phone calls or leave the base. Williams kept the rape to himself. The sergeant came back several days later. This time, the sergeant beat Williams and knee-dropped him in the kidneys. Williams later fell on rocks during a training session, making the injuries worse. Continue reading

Bulletin Board v186

4-year-old Tucson boy in abuse case dies — Jaedyn Minley loved bounce houses, but was terrified of Chuck E Cheese. Jaedyn had a significant collection of little toy cars and the diction of an adult. And on Saturday, after the 4-year-old was declared brain dead, Jaedyn was removed from life support, and his organs were harvested to save the lives of two other children and an adult. “He was the best kid,” Jaedyn’s paternal aunt, Janai Minley, said Monday.

Anti-rape bill is anti-male: Jaya Bachchan — Actor-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan on Thursday said the anti-rape bill is anti-male and that its provisions make men vulnerable to misuse of the law. Participating in a debate in Rajya Sabha on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, Samajwadi Party MP Bachchan said she was not too happy with various aspects of the bill, including punishment for those found stalking women, which can lead to the misuse of the bill. It’s not just men who stalk women.

Barbara Kay: Our male-victimizing myths live on — Twenty years ago Earl Silverman of Calgary, fleeing his home to escape violence from his abusive wife, had no refuge to take shelter in. There were plenty of shelters for women victims of domestic abuse, but for men the only publicly funded services were for anger management. The message was clear to Silverman: “As a victim, I was re-victimized by having these services telling me I wasn’t a victim, but I was a perpetrator.”

Criminal justice system’s ‘dark secret’: Teenagers in solitary confinement — James Stewart, a 17-year-old from Denver who committed suicide while in solitary confinement, had never been to jail before August of 2008. That was when, under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, Stewart had gotten into a head-on car collision, killing a 32-year-old man. Because of the severity of his crime, Stewart was charged with vehicular homicide – and charged as an adult. Continue reading

Senate panel hears about rape in the military

Today the Senate held a panel discussing sexual violence in the military. This is a growing issue primarily because of how the military covers up sexual violence. People who report abuse not only face a wall of silence, but some of them face counter charges and potential discharge. The cover-up, much like that of the Vatican, starts from the top. So many people in power are aware of the problem and yet do nothing.

The Senate heard testimony from three ex-service members — BriGette McCoy, Rebekhah Havrilla, Anu Bhagwati, and Brian Lewis — concerning the situation:

BriGette McCoy described how she was raped on her first military assignment, two weeks before her 19th birthday. She described how, later that year, she was raped by another soldier in her unit.

Then came sexual harassment by two officers — including one who requested that she be moved to work directly for him, she said Wednesday.

Testifying before lawmakers, the former Army specialist described the “anguish” and “entrapment” she felt, and the horror of the ordeal that followed.

“I no longer have any faith or hope that the military chain of command will consistently prosecute, convict, sentence and carry out the sentencing of sexual predators in uniform without absconding justice somehow,” she told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on personnel.

“It even starts at recruitment,” she said. “We have quite a few of our men and women that are being raped and sexually harassed during the recruitment process.”

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