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What I Wish I'd Known About Sexual Assault in the Military

daftandbarmy

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What I Wish I'd Known About Sexual Assault in the Military

For women, fending off unwanted male attention is the job that never ends.

In 2008, the Pentagon ramped up efforts to prevent sexual assault and make offenders more accountable. Since then there has been a substantial drop in incidents: from approximately 34,200 in 2006 to 14,900 in 2016, based on a confidential survey. Yet recent data suggest that the number has risen, with 20,500 victims of sexual assault in 2018. It’s hard to know exactly what to make of this, but one finding is particularly surprising: Despite the #MeToo movement, service members were somewhat less likely to report an assault in 2018 than they were in 2016, based on comparing figures in the confidential survey with reported incidents.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s the nature of warfare itself that is to blame for the persistence of sexual abuse in the military. We ask men to do violence in service to the state, to be paragons of hypermasculinity. Can we simultaneously ask them to change the way they perform masculinity toward women? Can we ask them to make safe spaces for women in war?

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/10/get-a-weapon/596677/
 

Infanteer

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It's disheartening, and it gave me pause to think through my past interactions with my female colleagues and subordinates.  I like to think I was perceived as a professional, but this tells me that as a superior, you need to make it known that you have their back if they feel they've been assaulted, as the fear against raising a complaint is sad.
 

AbdullahD

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Infanteer said:
It's disheartening, and it gave me pause to think through my past interactions with my female colleagues and subordinates.  I like to think I was perceived as a professional, but this tells me that as a superior, you need to make it known that you have their back if they feel they've been assaulted, as the fear against raising a complaint is sad.

I think you have the right of it. If their/her superior has their back, the confidence or wherewithal to report proactively or reactively the situation is in my opinion significantly higher.

I always tell my wife and daughter, if anything happens at all, to tell me and I have their back. I would be more then proud of my daughter if she serves in the Canadian forces, it just suprises me in a way how bad certain things still are and worries me.

But having said that, I would be interested in seeing how many offenders their were or are and rates of offence. If it is a small group of people committing said offences, we could isolate and address the issue. I wonder if significant differences if combat arms have higher rates of offence vs supply? Or do support troops commit more offences as a way of compensating for not being combat arms in a war?

I'd love to see an article explaining it in greater detail. Until then I would love to see superiors to these ladies, have mad daddy approach when they hear about these issues and maybe scare some sense into these pigs.

Abdullah)
 

tomahawk6

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This is a problem on college campii as well as the military. At least the military can forbid fraternization where colleges cant. In the past females had their own barracks which may be one help address the issue.
 

Jarnhamar

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daftandbarmy said:
If by 'sobering' you mean 'terrifying', especially if you happen to have a daughter, yes, it was  :eek:

I would do anything in my power to convince, bribe or beg my daughters against joining the military.
 

dapaterson

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Jarnhamar said:
I would do anything in my power to convince, bribe or beg my daughters against joining the military.

And you're not alone in that feeling.

So what can we do to make a CAF that would change your mind about that?

...keeping in mind the old aphorism that "culture eats strategy for breakfast", I don't think another NDHQ think piece is what's in order here...
 

Underway

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dapaterson said:
And you're not alone in that feeling.

So what can we do to make a CAF that would change your mind about that?

...keeping in mind the old aphorism that "culture eats strategy for breakfast", I don't think another NDHQ think piece is what's in order here...

From my personal observations:

When a mess/unit gets to a critical mass of women (IMHO about 1 in 5 or 1 in 4) the culture shifts rapidly.  Suddenly it goes from locker room to something more professional in behaviour.  I've noticed that the personal hygiene of the men improves on ship and in the field as well.

Does this stop harassment or predatory behaviour of certain individuals?  No, but it takes the pressure off the few women who were there originally to "be one of the guys" or in the article above... take alternative ways to fit in.  Having a bunch of women look out for each other and female representation within the chain of command are good ways to have problems deal with appropriately.

There are a number of men aboard my current ship (myself included) who would love to see what a majority female ship looks like for culture, not in a creepy way but because sometimes the bro's can be a bit too much.  It could be done on an MCDV or AOPS fairly easily. 
 

Blackadder1916

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daftandbarmy said:
Sometimes I wonder if it’s the nature of warfare itself that is to blame for the persistence of sexual abuse in the military. We ask men to do violence in service to the state, to be paragons of hypermasculinity. Can we simultaneously ask them to change the way they perform masculinity toward women? Can we ask them to make safe spaces for women in war?

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/10/get-a-weapon/596677/

So, "boys will be boys".  My apologies, my intent is not to dismiss your observation.  However, the nature of warfare has changed from the days when a barely ruly mob was living off the land and taking their R&R where they found it, to now when most military operations are very focused on getting local civilian populations to accept the presence of foreign forces who say (like the proverbial staff officer from NDHQ) that they are there to help.  If we can expect that our troops will protect the locals and not rob, rape or kill them, then surely the lesser standard of acting in a civil manner to fellow soldiers is not something that is beyond comprehension.  So, instead of "boys will be boys" maybe "thugs will be thugs" is a better description.

As I reflect back 25 years (to the month) to Rwanda, I recall an incident in this vein.  One of the women with our unit went out to the water point (a lake) we were using, while there a RPA soldier began harassing her and threatened to drag her off into the bushes.  The security detail (3 Cdo, CAR guys) of course objected and there was a bit of a stand-off for a while until a RPA officer came by and ordered his men to leave.  While it was never confirmed, the local RPA did apologize and we heard that the way that they handled the disciplinary process was to hold a battalion parade, march the offender in front of the assembly, kneel him down and put a bullet in the back of his head.  If that actually did happen, I'll bet that it focused the soldiers on what was acceptable conduct.  I am also sure that such a punishment probably had nothing to do specifically with the type of transgression that the Rwandan soldier attempted.  It was just that he had created an incident with the Canadians without authority, and there were incidents that did occur that likely did not incur punishment.
 

FSTO

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Blackadder1916 said:
So, "boys will be boys".  My apologies, my intent is not to dismiss your observation.  However, the nature of warfare has changed from the days when a barely ruly mob was living off the land and taking their R&R where they found it, to now when most military operations are very focused on getting local civilian populations to accept the presence of foreign forces who say (like the proverbial staff officer from NDHQ) that they are there to help.  If we can expect that our troops will protect the locals and not rob, rape or kill them, then surely the lesser standard of acting in a civil manner to fellow soldiers is not something that is beyond comprehension.  So, instead of "boys will be boys" maybe "thugs will be thugs" is a better description.

As I reflect back 25 years (to the month) to Rwanda, I recall an incident in this vein.  One of the women with our unit went out to the water point (a lake) we were using, while there a RPA soldier began harassing her and threatened to drag her off into the bushes.  The security detail (3 Cdo, CAR guys) of course objected and there was a bit of a stand-off for a while until a RPA officer came by and ordered his men to leave.  While it was never confirmed, the local RPA did apologize and we heard that the way that they handled the disciplinary process was to hold a battalion parade, march the offender in front of the assembly, kneel him down and put a bullet in the back of his head.  If that actually did happen, I'll bet that it focused the soldiers on what was acceptable conduct.  I am also sure that such a punishment probably had nothing to do specifically with the type of transgression that the Rwandan soldier attempted.  It was just that he had created an incident with the Canadians without authority, and there were incidents that did occur that likely did not incur punishment.

That "Boys will be Boys" thought is a quote directly from the author of the article and not from D&B.
 

The Bread Guy

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Blackadder1916 said:
… If we can expect that our troops will protect the locals and not rob, rape or kill them, then surely the lesser standard of acting in a civil manner to fellow soldiers is not something that is beyond comprehension ...
This right here. 

Going a titch further ...
daftandbarmy said:
… We ask/train men to do managed violence under lawful command in service to the state, to be paragons of hypermasculinity when circumstances warrant
Given the added bits in yellow …
daftandbarmy said:
… Can we simultaneously ask them to change the way they perform masculinity toward women? ...
… I suspect the answer is, "yes, they can be trained & educated to treat people on their side properly."  That said …
dapaterson said:
...keeping in mind the old aphorism that "culture eats strategy for breakfast"...
… it ain't going to be a quick, easy education process. #PaintMeOptimistic
 

daftandbarmy

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Jarnhamar said:
I would do anything in my power to convince, bribe or beg my daughters against joining the military.

So you know, of course, that will make her want to join up really badly, right? ;)
 

AbdullahD

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daftandbarmy said:
So you know, of course, that will make her want to join up really badly, right? ;)

Thank god you said it, I wasn't going to lol.

^^
Abdullah
 

mariomike

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AbdullahD said:
Or do support troops commit more offences as a way of compensating for not being combat arms in a war?

I wasn't in the Combat Arms. But, I considered one job as important as the next.

Jarnhamar said:
I would do anything in my power to convince, bribe or beg my daughters against joining the military.

My sister joined the Regular Force and stayed in for the whole ride. If she has any regrets, she never mentioned them to me.
 

AbdullahD

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mariomike said:
I wasn't in the Combat Arms. But, I considered one job as important as the next.

Sorry, I did not, in any way whatsoever mean to imply that any particular job is more or less important. In fact I think my inclination towards the support side is well known here.. just life keeps me where I am.

I guess I should have made it clearer that some people, may not feel that way either consciously or subconsciously. I see within the veteran community a certain joking, which is healthy in my opinion with support vs combat... but it seems like in every single group, a sub group of people exist who are less then desirable and those people may be unbalanced for whatever reasons and acting out because of that. Or it could be, because they feel they will get away with it, they can do it. Whereas back in the civilian world, they feel they will get caught. Who knows?

Abdullah
 

daftandbarmy

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AbdullahD said:
Sorry, I did not, in any way whatsoever mean to imply that any particular job is more or less important. In fact I think my inclination towards the support side is well known here.. just life keeps me where I am.

I guess I should have made it clearer that some people, may not feel that way either consciously or subconsciously. I see within the veteran community a certain joking, which is healthy in my opinion with support vs combat... but it seems like in every single group, a sub group of people exist who are less then desirable and those people may be unbalanced for whatever reasons and acting out because of that. Or it could be, because they feel they will get away with it, they can do it. Whereas back in the civilian world, they feel they will get caught. Who knows?

Abdullah

I just can't believe that any military would put young (civilian) females in that position. If there was a failure of some kind, it was a leadership failure at the highest levels.
 

tomahawk6

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Keep your daughters at home under lock and key. Whether the girls are going to college or the military they should have the values that they learned from mom and dad such as avoiding compromising situations and alcohol. Traveling in groups would also be smart.
 

The Bread Guy

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tomahawk6 said:
Keep your daughters at home under lock and key.
Seriously?
tomahawk6 said:
Whether the girls are going to college or the military they should have the values that they learned from mom and dad such as avoiding compromising situations and alcohol.
Variations on the "they should keep their legs closed" theme strike me as maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe a bit one-sided, no?
daftandbarmy said:
I just can't believe that any military would put young (civilian) females in that position. If there was a failure of some kind, it was a leadership failure at the highest levels.
If this is still happening as much as some say it still is, it IS a leadership failure of monumental proportions - starting at the immediate supervisor level.

That said, wounded warriors should be treated better, too, but judging only by media reports, that doesn't seem to be improving as quickly as some would like in many places, either.  :dunno:
 

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That entire article was deeply depressing to read.  I don't think it's just a military problem though, it's a society/culture problem. 

Turn on the television, watch MTV for a few hours and tell me if you see anything fundamentally different?  It's trashy of course and is one step above Jerry Springer but this is what people want to watch.

Then there is the fact pornography has never been more widespread and available and then we've got Apps like Tinder were a casual hookup happens as easily as swiping right. 

Of course some men are also pigs but I wonder if there is a certain amount of cultural nurturing that goes in to it?

It seems many people lack a code.  I'm not talking about a codified legal code either.  I'm talking about a way of conducting ones self. 
 
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