Military Men Share Heartbreaking Stories of Sexual Assault

A devastating portrait of sexual assault in the military is emerging -- and it doesn't just involve women. Men are reportedly more likely to experience sexual assault when they enlist, and a recent GQ article has given a voice to many of these men. More than a dozen veterans and current servicemen opened up with their stories of sexual abuse in the military and how they say the military failed them again and again.

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Reportedly, when a man enters the military, he is 10 times likelier to be abused than if he didn't. And there were an estimated 14,200 reports of male rape in 2012 alone. And those are just the ones reported -- men are much less likely to report sexual abuse. They are ashamed, worried about their careers, and before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed, frightened of being kicked out of the service.

As Kole Walsh, who said he was assaulted during a stint in the Army in 2007, told GQ:

I had actually let the assault go, because I didn't want it to interfere with my career. I wanted to be an officer, and I just said, 'Bad experience, won't let that happen again.' But there was some residual damage. 

That "residual damage" included later testing positive for HIV and being let go from the Army.

And the rigid hierarchy of the military makes it very difficult for victims to fight back.

A Marine said:

When a gunnery sergeant tells you to take off your clothes, you better take off your clothes. You don't ask questions.

The men say that even if they do figure out how to report a rape, they are often let go because of unproven "personality disorders" while the offender is allowed to continue to serve -- and abuse.

Psychiatric help is often unavailable or anemic, say survivors. One man describes having to detail his experience over and over to different inexperienced interns -- calling the process a "joke."

Former Navy sailor Terry Neal said one doctor told him: "Son, men don't get raped."

One man, who is gay, says he's now "terrified" of men.

Ugh, these stories are so heartbreaking. Sexual assault is REAL, not just for women, but for men too. How sad that they should be so ashamed and anxious about coming forward, and then treated so shabbily when they do.

New York Senator Kristin Gillibrand has introduced a bill that would strip military commanders of the power to prosecute sex crimes and to give that decision to independent prosecutors.

Something must be done about this.


Image via © Radius Images/Corbis

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