Sexual Assaults in Military Keep Rising—And Nearly 90 Percent Never Report It

 

The number of servicemembers who reported being sexually assaulted rose consistently over the past four years, according to an internal Pentagon report released Tuesday, despite recent efforts by the Obama administration to address the problem. But because only a fraction of servicemembers ever report assaults to their superiors, the Pentagon also conducts an anonymous survey to estimate the true scope of the problem, and those reveal a much larger number: For 2012, for example, the report estimates that the real number servicemembers experiencing “unwanted sexual contact” is closer to 26,000, which means about 90 percent of servicemembers assaulted kept quiet about it. (The DoD data only provide estimates for 2006, 2010, and 2012.)

This problem has persisted for years—in 2008 then Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) wrote that women in the military were more likely to be raped by fellow servicemembers than killed by enemy fire. The news comes two days after the Air Force official charged with preventing sexual assault, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, was himself charged with sexual battery. The administration’s nominee for vice commander of the Air Force Space Command is being held up in the Senate following revelations that she promoted an officer convicted of sexual assault.

The Pentagon report states that “[c]losing the gaps between prevalence and reporting will remain a key factor in determining success of our efforts.” As you can see, so far they haven’t made a tremendous amount of progress. Tuesday Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a new set of measures to improve the military’s handling of sexual assault, saying that “we know we’ve got big problems. We know that. And we’ve addressed that, and we’ll continue to address it.”

Note: This chart is based on one presented in the secretary of defense’s sexual assault prevention and response memo released by the Pentagon yesterday.

 

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate