Male Military Rape: Uncovering The Secret

Can You Tell If A Man Has Been Raped? Photo Credit: SPC Andrew Baker Public domain photograph from defenseimagery.mil.

Can You Tell If A Military Man Has Been Raped?
Photo Credit: SPC Andrew Baker Public domain photograph from defenseimagery.mil.

Real men don’t get raped. That’s the message the U.S. military sends to the young men they have recruited. But they are wrong. The Pentagon says,

“Thirty-eight military men are sexually assaulted every single day.”

It is true that women are raped. And that is a difficult and complex discussion. But the men’s rapes may as difficult if not more so, because we rarely hear from the survivors. Why?

The victims almost never report the assaults, and the guilty hardly ever get punished. And as importantly Congress oversight committees have not exerted their supreme power to protect male soldiers. But why are the numbers of men who are victims of military sexual trauma [MST] in the military higher than women?

“The moment a man enlists in the United States armed forces, his chances of being sexually assaulted increase by a factor of ten. Women, of course, are much more likely to be victims of military sexual trauma [MST], but far fewer of them enlist.

 “Prior to the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2011, male-on-male-rape victims could actually be discharged for having engaged in homosexual conduct. That’s no longer the case—but the numbers show that men are still afraid to report being sexually assaulted.

The military formula is a balance between “aggression and obedience.” And those in power who abuse it through rape are saying, “I own you totally.” Psychologist with the Salt Lake City VA’s PTSD clinical team, James Asbrand says,

“One of the myths is that the perpetrators identify as gay, which is by and large not the case, It’s not about the sex. It’s about power and control.”

And so men bury the shame, because surely they did something to cause the rape. And straight men begin to question “their own sexual orientation.” Gay men begin to doubt their own judgment, and find that they have trust issues.

Asbrand discusses the domination and the temporary role shift that leads to shame when men are raped,

“In a hypermasculine culture, what’s the worst thing you can do to another man? Force him into what the culture perceives as a feminine role. Completely dominate and rape him.”

Men don’t say anything for a number of reasons: shame, fear of retaliation, fear of ending their career. After all the military “illegally discharged MST victims by falsely diagnosing them with personality disorders.”

That means the victims will be refused medical treatment, because “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.”

So here is rape by the numbers. Only seven percent of MST victims go to trial. The military places estimates of unreported attacks at 81 percent. And 62 percent were retaliated against.

“Men develop PTSD from sexual assault at nearly twice the rate they do from combat…Military sexual trauma causes a particularly toxic form of PTSD. The betrayal by a comrade-in-arms, a brother in whom you place unconditional trust, can be unbearable.

“Warrior culture values stoicism, which encourages a victim to keep his troubles to himself and stigmatizes him if he doesn’t. An implacable chain of command sometimes compels a victim to work or sleep alongside an attacker, which can make him feel captive to his suffering and deserving of it.”

According to Asbrand,

 “We’re asking them to talk about the one thing they’ll do anything to keep other people from knowing about them The irony is that PTSD is highly treatable, even if the damage it does over time to families and professional lives may not be.”

And true to the mythology the reality of the VA focuses “largely on women.” And it is so that some programs completely exclude men.

“Group therapy offered for sexual assault victims often puts men in the same group with women.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D-N.Y.] has led the charge in Congress for the reform of military sex-assault laws. Her bill, the Military Justice Improvement Act [MJIA] is stalled. But if it is implemented it would take the decision to prosecute from the commanders and give it to “independent military prosecutors.” Although her bill made it through the Senate, it couldn’t beat a filibuster.

Sen. Claire McCaskill’s [D-Mo.] bill was passed unanimously and currently awaits action in a House sub-committee. And Gillibrand intends to resusitate her bill at a later date. All the while sexual assaults increased the third year in a row.

Michael Matthews, an MST victim comments on McCaskill’s bill,

“You know McCaskill’s bill ain’t gonna work, because the Pentagon likes her bill.”

At this time the military has the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office [SAPRO]. It is,

“Responsible for oversight of the Department’s sexual assault policy. SAPRO works hand-in-hand with the Services and the civilian community to develop and implement innovative prevention and response programs.”

Warriors with empathy for victims seems to go against the creed of war. And a failure at any level finds its way to the top,

“MST-victim advocates argue that people with specialized training should be making these decisions, not commanders.”

Violence against men, abuse against men is a complex issue. But it seems logical that the culture of war, just like the culture of football, encourages a level of aggression that bleeds away from the purpose it was intended and into the lives of the innocent.

“Telling the secret ruptures families and friendships. So does not telling.”

GQ Wrote An In-depth Article Linked Here