Of Any Military Installation, Sexual Assault Most Likely on Navy Ship: Report

A new report on sexual assaults in the military show that women and men are more likely to be assaulted on a U.S. Navy ship than any other type of military installation, and the ship most likely involved is an aircraft carrier.

The new report is based on 170,000 surveys of active-duty service members taken in 2014 collected by the RAND Corporation and commissioned by the Department of Defense.

Camille West wrote her master's thesis on military sexual assault after serving as a victim advocate in the Navy. She told NBC 7 that while there are tools for healing parts of the memories still remain.

"It’s like the scar is always there," West said. "It's never going to be completely gone."

Now in the Navy Reserves, she says she is not surprised that carriers top the list for the highest risk. "Pretty much you are with the same people 24/7. For carriers especially they go out on longer under-ways, so I would say the temptation is there."

The report found that younger service members were more likely to be victims, and there are plenty of young sailors on ships. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton ranked on the lower end of assaults at Marine bases. MCAS Yuma in Arizona was on the higher end.

One concern is the under-reporting of sexual assaults due to a fear of retaliation, especially for men, said West.

"I would say it’s much more harder for them to admit that something happened to them just because of that stigma," West said.

In an official statement, the U.S. Navy told NBC 7, "We are aware of the 2016 RAND Military Workplace Study Survey and we value the approaches that RAND takes to cutting-edge research. The Navy has further engaged with RAND to help us take a closer look at the conclusions of this report by conducting follow-on projects to provide more actionable information about where sexual assault risk is highest and lowest in the Navy.

"This information will be vital to us in determining where and how to target training, prevention and response resources. We take sexual assault seriously and specifically want to understand the "why" presented by the data. Identifying protective and risk factors is essential to mitigating the risk of sexual assault for our Sailors."

They added there are concerns about whether the numbers accurately reflect the current status in the military because they were taken from years old data.

West said the reports, surveys, prevention programs and resources for help all aid to boost the morale in the Navy because people feel they can report sexual abuse without a fear of retaliation. 

The DoD SAFE Help Line is 1-877-995-5247.

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