Sexual assault cases up in U.S. Armed Forces

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces are more likely to be involved in domestic abuse cases in today's environment, according to the Department of Defense. In 2007, there were 2,085 reports of sexual assaults involving victims or subjects in the armed forces. In 2008, 2,265 cases were reported to the Department of Defense. Victims of abuse in the military said the stressors of war make an impact on an individual's personality.

According to military abuse counselors, victims of abuse should understand that abusers aren't created from war. They said war is not what causes abusers to come home and beat their spouses or other loved ones.

"The wars do not cause domestic violence but PTSD, alcohol issues may increase the severity of violence," said Sabrina Madden, who works for the military as an abuse counselor.

Madden said it's extremely difficult to get victims of sexual or mental abuse to come forward if they're in the military.

"Want to say there is help available and they do have reporting options, they can come talk to us without starting the law enforcement process or chain of command," said Madden.

According to Madden, there are several reasons victims don't report their abusers in the military.

One reason is that victims don't want to ruin their spouses career. They're afraid if they report abuse, then the abuser will love his/her rank. The abuser is almost always the breadwinner.

Another reason is that soldiers have their fellow soldiers to rely on and talk things through. Victims normally live away from their family and friends because they're living on a military base. Victims are far away from the people they would confide in.

It's hard for any abuse victim to come forward, but help is out there. According to the military, it's easier to report violent offenders.

In 2004, the Department of Defense created a new reporting system. It is available to all branches of the military.

If you are being abused, you can report under a restricted option, which means no higher ups in the military or law enforcement personnel will be involved.

In some instances, the military will pay for victims to get help from a civilian organization.

For more information on how to get help, click here.

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