Military Sexual Assaults

In a statement released by the Pentagon reports filed for military sexual assaults have increased by 37%, which is unprecedented in the military.

There is no way to know whether this increase in reports was just that or whether there was an actual increase in the number of military sexual assaults. The Defense Department indicated that the increase in reporting is due to increased confidence that something will actually be done about military sexual assaults. The military has been taking steps to improve their system for handling reports of military sexual assaults.

An independent panel looking into the handling of military sexual assaults recently had a two-day public meeting. At the start of the meeting they reported that from October through June of 2012 there were 3,553 military sexual assaults reported, whereas during the same time frame the previous year there were 2,434 complaints filed.

The increase in reports of military sexual assaults was across all branches of the service – Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines according to the Response Systems Panel. Of note is that, although the entire year’s reports are not yet available, there were more complaints filed for military sexual assault in the first three quarters of 2013’s fiscal year than the number reported during all of 2012’s budget year.

The Defense Department stated that of the 3,374 cases reported regarding unwanted sexual contact in 2012, there were nearly 23,000 more cases of military sexual assault that did not get reported, making a total of over 26,000 incidents of unwanted sexual contact in the military in 2012, indicating a 37% increase over 2011. Of the 3,374 cases reported, there were only 302 trials resulting in 238 convictions.

Over 60% of the 2012 reported cases of military sexual assault involved extremely serious incidents of rape, aggravated sexual assault, or forced sodomy. The Inspector General at the DOD, in looking into the investigations, discovered that over 10% of the 501 cases of military sexual assault he looked into from 2010 were sadly lacking in the basic elements of an investigation.

Across all branches of the service a majority of military personnel, 74% females and 60% males, claimed there were barriers up for reporting crimes of military sexual assault.

The DOD’s report stated:

  • 66% of victims of military sexual assault claimed they were not comfortable reporting the assault
  • 50% believed nothing would be done about it if they did make the report
  • 47% said they were afraid of retaliation so just kept silent

The leading cause of PTSD in women is sexual assault.  Women who are victims of military sexual assault may be plagued by the following PTSD symptoms:

  • The traumatic event being played over and over in their thoughts
  • Going out of their way to avoid any reminder of the event
  • Constantly being on guard and fearful that it will happen again

Clinical depression often accompanies military sexual assault as well as PTSD and includes symptoms such as frequent crying spells, feeling on the verge of tears, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, inadequacy, impaired attention and concentration, decreased energy, problems getting to sleep, staying asleep, early morning awakening (all forms of insomnia) or having trouble getting out of bed, trouble starting to do things, irritability, resentfulness, loss of interest in activities, loss of appetite or over eating.  Left untreated, depression can last for years and lead to a life of emptiness and misery.  Untreated depression often results in thoughts of suicide and therefore can be fatal.  Among adults who experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, 56.3% thought during their worst or most recent episode that it would be better if they were dead, 40.3% thought about committing suicide, 14.5% made a suicide plan, and 10.4% made a suicide attempt.  Approximately 10% of depressed adults commit suicide each year.  Unfortunately, it has been estimated that about only half of those who need treatment for depression actually receive it.

Because our treatment for depression and PTSD relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of PTSD or depression, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and PTSD can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.