Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Male Victims Of Sexual Assault In The Military

This GQ article has to be one of the most harrowing, disturbing stories I have ever read, and I had no idea this was going on.

You hear about sexual assault in the military, but it's almost exclusively women in the service, but apparently over 50 percent of the victims of military sexual trauma (MST) are actually male.

According to the Pentagon, thirty-eight military men are sexually assaulted every single day.

You never hear about it because it's rarely reported. The article goes into depth as to the reason why, and some of those reasons are so incredibly outrageous, including the fact that these people are victimized twice- by their rapists and then by a system that fails them. Big time.

But shame isn't the only reason these men so often say nothing. Another is fear—of physical retaliation, professional ruin, social stigma. Research suggests that the military brass may have conspired to illegally discharge MST victims by falsely diagnosing them with personality disorders. "The military has a systemic personality disorder discharge problem," write the authors of a 2012 Yale Law School white paper. Between 2001 and 2010, some 31,000 servicepersons were involuntarily discharged for personality disorders. It is likely that in many cases these were sham diagnoses meant to rid the ranks of MST victims. "If they want you to be schizophrenic," says Trent Smith, an MST survivor currently fighting his discharge from the Air Force, "you're schizophrenic." These diagnoses also spare the government the costs of aftercare: The VA considers a personality disorder to be a pre-existing condition, so it won't cover the expense of treatment for PTSD caused by a sexual assault.

Above all, MST victims keep quiet because they do not believe their attackers will be punished. And they're almost certainly right. The conviction rate in MST cases that go to trial is just 7 percent. An estimated 81 percent of male MST victims never report being attacked. Perhaps it should astonish us that any of them do.

GQ interviewed 23 victims, along with mental health professionals, military officials and lawmakers.

Shameful that nothing is being done to help them.

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