The Hidden Faces of Sexual Assault in the Army. Essay Example

Published: 2023-08-10
The Hidden Faces of Sexual Assault in the Army. Essay Example
Essay type:  Problem solution essays
Categories:  Gender Problem solving Army Sexual assault Essays by wordcount
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1904 words
16 min read

Men and women both have a vital role in the success of today’s army, and one builds upon the other. Leadership focuses on the training and well-being of the total soldier and his/her family. A commander of a unit must understand how to develop both without bias, in combat and garrison. For the last 16 years, we have been at war, and the men and women of the United States Army have been tactically and operationally proficient and always in the ready. In theater, commanders had to keep their soldiers prepared for all threats, and male and female soldiers relied on each other. The primary focus was on protecting each other and making sure that everyone made it home. Now the war in the Middle East is ending, and soldiers are starting to come home. Many of the commanders and senior NCOs are not prepared, nor do they want to face battles they are about to face or the ones that came home with them.

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The military is full of issues and problems, many of which were already there but were hidden, not dealt with, or mishandled due to the focus on war. Leadership must now focus on dealing with a problem that has been in the military longer than I have. Over the last decade, leaders have only had to focus on training and combat operations. Now leadership must deal with something that they should be dealing with in combat zones as well as in garrison, and it is part of soldier care. Leadership is not only responsible for the actions of their soldiers but also the actions or non-actions of other leaders. It is not just the responsibility of leadership but also that of all soldiers to ensure the safety and well-being of their brothers and sisters in arms. We all too often turn the other cheek for fear of retribution for reporting sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.

Problem Statement

There is a problem in the army with sexual assault at all levels, of not being reported because of fear of backlash or being misreported. The challenge is to develop an Army culture that recognizes the intangible benefits of enforcing the regulations and optimizing our processes of handling sexual harassment without separating the force. The lack of funding inhibits units from developing training programs that teach soldiers how to identify the harassed and how to approach the harasser. Yet we fund a new physical fitness test that is clearly gender-biased.

Research Question(s) and Strategy

There are different research questions that will be used for this research, and they are stated as follows

  • How can joint functions in the military result in numerous sexual assaults reported in the military?
  • What are the root causes of sexual harassment in the army?
  • What are the implications of sexual assaults in military operations?
  • What are the barriers that have been created with the DOD policies in addressing the sexual assault norms?

The key strategies used in this research are to examine how sergeants, as well as majors, can assist in creating an equitable environment that will halt any vices relating to sexual assaults. Another strategy that will be employed in addressing this issue of sexual assault is experience and leadership competencies. Further to this, the analysis will incorporate the DOD policies, leadership management, as well as professional arms that can help in addressing the sexual and their implications in the military organization. The department of defense policies on sexual assaults will be examined using the description given by the congress of the United States of America in 2004 that followed the increased cases of sexual assaults among men and women in the military sector (Holland, Rabelo, & Cortina, 2014). Also, in this analysis, there will be the use of the National Defense Authorization Act in addressing the issues relating to hidden sexual face in a military organization. In this analysis, all the threats resulting from the sexual harassment in the military will be addressed decisively. Using the DOD policies, also the sexual assaults that are prone among the men in uniform will also be raised and addressed accordingly. Further to this, there will be the questing of the implications of sexual violence and sexism culture among the Marines United.

Literature review

Sexual harassment is characterized by loneliness, alcoholism, mental illness, and a stressful environment. The New York Times Magazine article recorded an 8% increase in sexual assault cases between the years 2007 and 2008 (Rosenthal, 2013). Out of this, an 11% increase was reported in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since then, the number of sexual assault victim in the military have increased tremendously. For example, in 2007, a total of 2, 846 soldiers were sexual assault victims (Castro et al., 2015). It is evident that there have been increased cases of sexual assaults that have been reported in the military since 2007, and the percentage is estimated at about 88%. In essence, there is an increased number of victims who have been frightened and scared by those who have assaulted them sexually. One thing that has to come clear is that military personnel is just human beings like any other ordinary person, and thus, their rights should be protected as well.

There are a number of causes of sexual assaults in the military, and these are often not different from the overall civilian communities. Some of them are discussed as follows

Gender stereotypes are one of the major causes of sexual assault in the army. Preferably, the military is just like any other large organization across the world (Castro et al., 2015). Thus, it is a patriarchal structure that is immensely dominated by leadership, rank, formality, camaraderie, as well as emotional control. Masculine ideals are given a priority as it encourages aggression, dominance, risk-taking, and self-sufficiency. The military is dominated by the bonding of peer groups that comprises only of men, and this is known to be a major cause of sexual assault by fostering hyper-masculinity, which categorizes masculinity in terms of control, dominance, and competition (Torreon, 2013). With this in mind, the kind of power differential that exists between military men and women because of the masculine-dominated type of power is the major cause of sexual assault in the military. This is because the male-dominated type of leadership practiced within the military plays an important role when it comes to sexual misconduct in arming men and women within the military. Moreover, the traditional beliefs on hyper-masculinity, negative attitudes towards the female gender, and cultural homophobia within the military are closely linked to the sexual violence that is practiced in the military.

Cultural acceptance is another cause of military sexual assault among men and women in the military. Both the civilian and military victims of sexual assault have always described the responses and the end results of sexual violence as being more hurting than even the assault itself (Rosenthal, 2013). The existing stiff chain of command and an apparent norm of silence tend to create an uncomfortable environment where the victims are afraid to report cases of sexual assault or even seek help as they believe that there will be no one to respond to their cries (Torreon, 2013). Therefore, the civilian and the military victims of sexual assault always face the blame and dismissal as well as skeptical questioning despite the fact that there is always more evidence that could prove that indeed an act of sexual assault occurred. An existing DoD statistic shows that the retaliatory behaviors within the civilian and military environments are different. The victims were discouraged from filing any legal reports, as well as the refusal to consider the reports provided by the victims of sexual assault was common within the military environs (Rosenthal, 2013). Reports indicate that military officers use adjustment disorder analyses and personality to discharge the sexual assault victims and, more specifically, the male victims.

Several aspects of military culture directly or indirectly lead or contribute to the various incidences of sexual assault within the military (Holland, Rabelo, & Cortina, 2014). These aspects have created a continuous inappropriate cultural behavior of the employees who, in many cases, appear to be culprits. The cultural factors within the military that are linked to sexual harassment include;

Team loyalty is an important aspect of the military. Every work done in the military becomes successful with the help of the military team, and every military employee is usually committed to bringing success to the team (Castro et al., 2015). Thus, reporting any team member who gets involved in sexual harassment is indeed deemed as team betrayal, and no service member would want to commit to such. A sexual assault victim may, therefore, not report any of the misconducts they face within the military because they risk being perceived as disloyal to their fellow team members. Correspondingly, other team members become judgmental when a victim reports sexual harassment because of the belief that such mistakes are minor and should not be given much weight. The paradox that exists here is that the criminals of the sexual assault tend to take advantage of the members’ trust to help them avoid being reported to the authorities when it is indeed clear that the betrayer of the team is the perpetrator.

Leadership responsibility is another cultural factor in the military that is closely linked to the sexual assault cases that are paramount within the military. Leaders are always held responsible for creating an environment that is free of sexual assault such that none of the sexual misconduct will, in any case, be accepted. With this in mind, any reports on sexual harassment will make the leaders feel at fault, and they shall face the blame for letting such an act to occur in the environment that they created (Mengeling et al., 2014). The result of this is that no leader will be willing to take responsibility for such minor acts that they hear about, and this may make them dismiss the accusations as groundless. At the same time, they are tempted to convince the employees who are sexual assault victims not to report any cases of sexual misconduct.

The reporting system within the military follows various complicated processes that are characterized by several uncertainties and barriers. Victims of sexual harassment within the military are expected to file a restricted report such that the sexual harassment remains hidden. At the same time, the employee is free to receive free medical care and helpful services without any law enforcement and military command being directly involved. On the other hand, the employee also has the choice of filing a sexual harassment report where in which case law enforcement and unit leadership are informed of the assault but not in detail as investigations are undertaken (Mengeling et al., 2014). Though in case the service member breaks the confidentiality of the filed report by informing fellow employees who further discuss the assault by the leaders, a formal investigation is carried out. Other individuals like the chaplain, legal staff, and medical personnel will also be notified of the misconduct, and the result will be that the service member is withheld.


Castro A.C, & Warner C.H., (2015). Sexual Assault in the Military Retrieved from

Castro, C. A., Kintzle, S., Schuyler, A. C., Lucas, C. L., & Warner, C. H. (2015). Sexual assault in the military. Current psychiatry reports, 17(7), 54.

Department of the Army. (2014) Army Command Policy (Army Regulation 600-20) Retrieved from

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