FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2015
*** STATEMENT ***
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS RESPONDS TO GAO REPORT THAT FINDS THE PENTAGON HAS FAILED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE IMPACT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE MILITARY ON MALE SERVICEMEMBERS
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report detailing the systemic failure of the Department of Defense to address the needs of male sexual assault survivors in its policies, prevention programming, performance metrics, or medical and mental health care.
The study found that, while women and men face many of the same challenges, male survivors also face unique barriers; for example, they may be less likely to be believed or may have concerns about masculinity and sexuality. And, while the Department of Defense has known since 2008 that men report sexual assault at statistically lower rates than women, it took no steps to encourage reporting among male survivors until 2014, after Congress ordered the GAO review. The GAO further found that the DoD failed to implement any male-specific programming into its approach, and that male needs have not been studied or addressed.
The report also exposes disturbing attitudes that continue to persist within the military and show that commanders are not always supportive of sexual assault prevention efforts, especially pertaining to men. The report cites one example in which sexual assault response coordinators reportedly overheard officers making “derogatory comments and express their disbelief that males could be raped.”
Today, Protect Our Defenders President, Col. Don Christensen (ret.), released the following statement:
“The report released by the GAO reveals a stunning refusal of DoD to acknowledge the true scope and impact of military sexual assault and to seriously address the problem. DoD’s own data has shown that men account for nearly half of all victims of sexual assault in the military, and yet no meaningful steps have been taken to understand and confront this reality.
“This is not only willful ignorance towards the problem itself, but is a denial of the humanity and dignity of so many male survivors, who are suffering in silence and without access to the vital services and support they need. The DoD has a duty to all survivors of this horrific crime, and this report shows that they have utterly failed our service members.
“Furthermore, the attitudes of commanders are emblematic of the bias and conflict of interest that continues to pervade the military and undermine attempts to eradicate sexual assault. It is no wonder so few survivors choose to report when their superiors ridicule and mock their trauma. Until there is a professional, impartial military justice system, our service members will continue to be at risk.”
GAO Report: Actions Needed to Address Sexual Assaults of Male Servicemembers
Think Progress: The Forgotten Victims Of Military Sexual Assault: Men
Washington Times: Military sexual assault services may neglect men: report
About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders is a human rights organization. We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, and re-victimized by the military adjudication system – a system that often blames the victim and fails to prosecute the perpetrator. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.