Reports of Military Sexual Assaults Increase 10 Percent: Pentagon Study

There was a nearly 10 percent increase in the number of military service members who chose to report a sexual assault in 2017 over the previous year, according to the Pentagon.

The U.S. Department of Defense released its annual review of sexual assaults in the military Monday saying it was encouraged by the increase in troops willing to report the assaults.

An estimated 14,900 active duty service members experienced a sexual assault in 2016, according to the survey. The number of incidents is down from 34,000 incidents in 2008.

The numbers for incidences of sexual assault are down by an estimated 50 percent for men and an estimated 30 percent for women, according to Under Secretary of Defense Robert L. Wilkie.

Eighty-one percent of the formal complaints in 2017 happened on duty, according to the survey results. The offenders were 98 percent male service members. Thirty-eight percent of them were in pay grades E5-E6. 

The Pentagon admits sexual assault is still happening within its ranks and its existence hurts military readiness.

Women are not the only victims. Surveys of U.S. troops consistently find male and female service members experience sexual assault each year, according to the study.

Each branch of the military has launched specific programs geared toward helping male victims of sexual assault in their ranks. For example, the U.S. Marine Corps is working to ensure any reporting practices are gender-responsive.

Safe Helpline, a 24/7 program put in place to help victims, saw a 6 percent increase in usage this year. Data from the helpline suggests one-third of the users were men.

The Pentagon said it will measure the past-year incidents of sexual assault with a survey of active duty members taken at the end of 2018. That report will be made available in May 2019.

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