Policy Statement

Protect Our Defenders educates the public and policymakers on the crisis of sexual violence in the military. Despite more than 25 years of Pentagon studies, task force recommendations and congressional hearings, rates of rape, sexual assault and harassment within the military remain unacceptably high. Survivors of sexual violence in the military must receive justice and appropriate medical support. And, their perpetrators must be held accountable for their crimes.

According to the Department of Defense, over 26,000 sexual crimes occurred in 2012, an increase of 34% from 2011. Only 9.8 percent of victims reported these crimes. Of victims who chose not to report, 47% indicated fear of retaliation or reprisal as reasons for not reporting. The conviction rate of sexual crimes in 2011 was less than one percent.

Survivors of rape and sexual assault encounter numerous obstacles in acquiring immediate and long-term care. They are often disbelieved, silenced, denied health care and discharged involuntarily. Again and again, survivors tell us that terms such as “personality disorder, bipolar disorder or conduct unbecoming” are imposed as false reasons for their discharge.

To address these problems, Protect Our Defenders engages policymakers on issues affecting service members and veterans who are victims of military sexual violence.

We urge concerned Americans to to join our community, to create a unified voice in support of legislation to fundamentally change the way the Department of Defense deals with the injustices facing service members and veterans who have suffered military sexual trauma. Sign Our Petition.