Defense Department Reports that Sexual Assaults are Down and Reporting is Up

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Pentagon shows progress in its battle against sexual violence

(December 4, 2014)—The Department of Defense estimates, in a new report to the president, that about 19,000 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact in the last fiscal year, down about 27% from an estimated 26,000 victims in FY 2012. The percentage of victims who reported their attack to military authorities climbed to 24% this year, up from 11% in the 2012 report. The overall number of reports rose by 8% in the last year.

DoD also reported that:


  • 62% of victims reported experiencing personal or professional retaliation after reporting (unchanged from 2012). In response, the Department is launching new initiatives to engage military leaders to encourage reports of and to prevent retaliation against those who report sexual violence, and says it will enhance training for first-line supervisors.
  • About 40% of female victims reported their attack either by filing an unrestricted report, which leads to a law enforcement investigation, or a restricted report, which allows the victim to seek services but is held in confidence and does not trigger an investigation. About 10% of male victims filed either a restricted or an unrestricted report. Overall, about three-quarters of all reports filed were unrestricted.
  • DoD took disciplinary action against the perpetrator in 73% of the sex offense cases it considered in 2014. In 2% of cases, the claims were deemed to be unfounded. In the remaining cases, evidentiary issues precluded action.
  • More than half of those victims surveyed who had reported their crime said that they were aware, prior to their assault, of the safe, confidential services offered through the DoD Safe Helpline, which RAINN operates through a contract with the Department of Defense.

Additionally, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Major General Jeffrey Snow, the head of DoD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, announced a new initiative designed to increase and formalize communication about these issues between the secretaries of the military departments and service members.

Do you know a member of the military community affected by sexual assault? Safe Helpline provides live, one-on-one support. The service is confidential, anonymous and secure; the content of conversations are not shared with DoD or the user’s chain of command. Services are available online or by calling 877-995-5247.

RAINN also operates Safe HelpRoom, a moderated chat service that allows members of the military to help each other. And the Safe Helpline self-care app can be downloaded for free from the iOS and Android app stores.

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