“The moment a man enlists in the United States armed forces, his chances of being sexually assaulted increase by a factor of ten,” wrote Nathaniel Penn in a GQ report on the growing epidemic of rape in the military. “Women, of course, are much more likely to be victims of military sexual trauma (MST), but far fewer of them enlist. In fact, more military men are assaulted than women — nearly 14,000 in 2012 alone.”
It is worth nothing that the number of instances in which military men have been sexually assaulted could actually be quite higher, since, as the DOD points out, the stigma many victims of assault face may prevent them from reporting what happened.
“An overpowering shame prevents many enlisted men from reporting an assault — a sense that they must somehow be complicit in what has happened to them,” Penn continued. “Straight men often question their own sexual orientation, while gay men may struggle to find intimacy in relationships because they don’t trust other men (or their own judgment). Telling the secret ruptures families and friendships. So does not telling.”
“It goes into men’s conditioning as adults that they don’t know how to reach out when this happens to them,” Lori Heitman, Army CID supervisory special agent, said in a statement on the DOD’s video. “More often than not, men actually will not ever disclose [an assault]. If they do, it’ll take 22 to 25 years on average to report being victimized.”