Target: Mark A. Milley, Army Chief Of Staff
Goal: Demand army officials stop punishing the victims of sexual assault.
It is no secret that there is a huge sexual assault problem in the military. Not only were there over 47,000 cases in 2014 alone, there’s estimated to be many more that went unreported. According to Department of Defense statistics, 1 in 3 cases of sexual assault went unreported because the victim feared that their career was at risk, or worse, that nothing would be done about it. What’s truly horrendous, though, is that the cases that do get reported usually end up with the victim being punished. There are thousands of reports of rape victims, especially women, who have lost their positions, were transferred, or even discharged as a result of their reporting their assault. It’s time to demand that the military stop retaliating against victims of sexual assault.
It’s reported that 1 in 7 of the sexual assaults that occur are by an officer in the chain of command above the victim, so in many cases if and when the commanding officer gets punished for their assault, the rest of the team winds up retaliating against the victim. A related example being the case of Jessica Hinves, who reported an assault by her fellow airman. Her report led to the rest of the airmen on her base turning hostile toward her, even though the airman who committed the assault was never prosecuted. At one point, the situation grew so tense that Jessica’s commanding officer couldn’t promise her safety on the base. She eventually got discharged for PTSD related to her assault.
In recent years, the Pentagon launched an investigation into sexual assault in the military. Reports of sexual assault have since gone up, which could indicate that more people are willing to speak up. However, retaliation against victims has yet to decrease since the investigation launched. Nearly two thirds of victims say they have experienced some sort of professional or social retaliation after they reported their assault. Demand that this retaliation stops so that more victims are inclined to come forward.
Dear General Milley,
If you would like to truly address the sexual assault problem among your service members, you will begin by cracking down on the officers who are retaliating against victims who chose to step forward. There is a serious problem afoot when 62 percent of victims who reported their assaults are being punished for speaking up. This is counterproductive and will only lead to more and more cases of assault going unreported.
The Pentagon and the Armed Forces have proclaimed an effort to “tackle sexual assault” and address the problem from the source, yet do nothing about the serious problem of retaliation against victims. Department of Defense spokeswoman Laura Seal admitted herself that ending retaliation is “critical” in dealing with the sexual assault problem in the military.
Guardians of this nation deserve better than to live in fear of being assaulted and not being able to report it. If you truly care about implementing reform on sexual assault in the military, you will start by addressing the thousands of officers who have been retaliated against for reporting their sexual assault. Nobody who is a victim of rape should ever have to face more punishment than they already have. We demand the military put an end to retaliation tactics against rape victims.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Protect Our Defenders