Newsweek’s Jesse Ellison wrote in the Daily Beast about men being raped by other men in the U.S. military.
The numbers are staggering. Ellison writes: “Last year nearly 50,000 male veterans screened positive for “military sexual trauma” at the Department of Veterans Affairs, up from just over 30,000 in 2003.”
But in addition to stories of male victims and the military’s attempts to address the problem, the Ellison’s piece also addresses the idea of how the military at-large and individual soldiers view themselves.
We don’t like to think that our men can be victims,” says Kathleen Chard, chief of the posttraumatic-stress unit at the Cincinnati [Department of Veterans Affairs]. “We don’t want to think that it could happen to us. If a man standing in front of me who is my size, my skill level, who has been raped—what does that mean about me? I can be raped, too.
Ellison also quotes Aaron Belkin from the Palm Center, a research group that studies gays in the military:
The military doesn’t want to talk about it because, as embarrassing as male-female rape is, [from their perspective] this is even worse. The very fact that there’s male-on-male rape in the military means that there are warriors who aren’t strong enough to fight back.
We like to think of the women and (especially) men who serve in the military as heroes, not “victims” as Chard said. By fighting our wars and protecting our freedom, members of the military are the embodiment of American strength and power. When these male soldiers become victims of rape, there isn’t a way to comprehend male victimhood and the violation of American strength and masculinity.
For most of military history, there was neither a system nor language in place to deal with incidents of soldier-on-soldier sexual assault. It wasn’t until 1992 that the Defense Department even acknowledged such incidents as an offense, and initially only female victims were recognized. But last year more than 110 men made confidential reports of sexual assault by other men, nearly three times as many as in 2007. The real number of victims is surely much higher.
Read the entire piece at The Daily Beast.
Photo credit: The U.S. Army / Flickr