A rape sub-culture exists within the United States military, exhibited and maintained by the high number of sexual assaults, victim blaming when reports are made, bullying that prevents many from coming forward, and the disincentivizing of reporting as seen in the disproportionate amount of sexual assault claims that make it to a court martial hearing. For example, in 2016 the Department of Defense estimates that approximately 15,000 service members were sexually assaulted,, yet only 143 cases resulted in a conviction for a sexual assault related offense.
Dr. Kristen Zaleski, a CLMP Advisory Council member and author of "Understanding and Treating Military Sexual Trauma," has noted that female and LGBT service members are often not seen as part of the collective group and, therefore, acceptable targets of sexual violence. The dehumanizing of anyone not within the masculinized warrior culture of military service can result in bullying tactics, harassment, and sexual violence.
The epidemic of sexual violence was first exposed in 1992 when 83 women and 7 men were sexually victimized by over 100 service members at the 35th Annual Tailhook Association conducted by the United States Department of Defense in Las Vegas. Currently known as the "Tailhook Scandal," it was subsequently investigated by Congress and found to show an "attitudinal virus" in the United States military that fails to protect all service members from sexual violence and abuse. Despite many calls to action by the United States government, the incidence of sexual violence continues at an alarming rate.
This rape sub-culture will not be extinguished without increased accountability, such as through the elimination of the Feres Doctrine. The MST division of CLMP works to gain visibility on the issue of military sexual trauma and advocate for legal justice for survivors.
Read Dwight Stirling and Laura Riley's article in Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine on military culture.
Purchase Dr. Zaleski's book "Understanding and Treating Military Sexual Trauma
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