The Reality of Sexual Harassment and Assault in the Military
Sexual assault is shockingly common in the military, and what may be even more shocking, more than half of military sexual assault victims are men. This is an alarming fact for most Americans; we never hear of these incidents because most survivors rarely speak up and the majority of the attackers go unpunished. Sexual harassment in the military should be treated as workplace harassment; victims can seek legal protection under military employment regulations.
Unfortunately, reporting sexual abuse and harassment in the military is still very stigmatized. In a normal work environment, it’s estimated around 45% of workers experience some form of wrongdoing, but according to a 2011 National Business Ethics Survey, half of these workers choose not to report it because they fear retaliation. An astonishing 1 in 5 workers experienced some form of retaliation or punishment after reporting such conduct. In the military, only 15% of victims chose to file an official report about the incident, while 49% of victims of sexual harassment or assault chose not to report any wrongdoing.
Fear of retaliation for reporting workplace discrimination runs rampant in the military. A PBS Frontline report stated, according to a Human Rights Watch analysis, “Many of those [victims] interviewed said that they had been harassed, physically attacked or threatened by their peers for reporting. Professionally, some service members said they were stripped of their ranks, assigned to menial tasks and even pushed out of the military — all because they reported an assault. Those who retaliated against them were almost never punished.”
In the past, sexual assault in the military was difficult to report because victims had no protection against retaliation from their superiors. However, this changed in 2013 when Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Act, giving service men and women official legal protection from being punished by their superiors for reporting any internal wrongdoing.
However, this legislation is difficult to enforce when it comes to sexual harassment and assault, simply because the instances are vastly under-reported. Fear of social retaliation from their peers is often strong enough to silence the victims.
The good news is the U.S. Military is encouraging sexual assault victims to make a report; they’re taking these cases seriously by providing real resources to help the victims. The bad news is far too many men and women defending our country are fighting two very difficult wars.
Whether you’re working at a corporate job in the U.S. or you’re an active service member in the military, workplace sexual harassment and assault is illegal. If you’ve been a victim of harassment or assault and you wish to take legal action, the experienced Cincinnati attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A., can help you fight for the protection you deserve.