Defense Leaders Trying Hard To Combat Sexual Assault

As the military has been trying hard to combat sexual assault cases, surveys conducted have uncovered some stark differences between the attacks against active-duty female service members and against active-duty men.

The differences highlighted in the surveys are forcing the defense leaders to come forward with some more gender-specific ways to treat the victims and address the crimes.

One of the biggest challenges before the defense leaders now is counting the numbers of men who have been sexually assaulted or faced unwanted sexual contact.

This is because in many cases males describe the incidents as hazing rather than sexual attacks.

Jill Loftus, director of the Navy's sexual assault prevention program, said, “We're really trying to get to that point where I think we understand what inappropriate behavior toward females is. But we've not gotten to what’s inappropriate toward males”.

The Pentagon is struggling to define retaliation and rein in bullying or other behavior that victims perceive as vengeful.

On Friday, the Pentagon released a deeper analysis of the sexual assault survey data made public last December.

The report highlighted difficulties faced while gathering data about retaliation, including problems with how some of the survey questions might have been misinterpreted and incidents of retaliation may have been over counted.

A RAND study concluded that about 60% of sexual assault victims believe they have faced retaliation from commanders or peers.

Pentagon leaders said the survey questions need to reflect what legally constitutes to retaliation. But they also acknowledged that often victims believe they are being retaliated against if peers no longer invite them to parties or if they are disciplined for illegal drug or alcohol use in connection with the assault.

Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention program, said in a statement that military services are working to get some vital information about the assaults and retaliation so they can improve training.