President Obama signed legislation repealing the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2011, but servicemen are still keeping silent on a related issue: Male-on-male rape.
A new study released by the American Psychological Association says male rape is underreported in the U.S. military. A true approximation of the problem may even be “15 times higher than has been previously reported.”
The APA’s conclusions, released Tuesday, were drawn from data spanning the 1980s until present. Its authors found cases of male Military Sexual Trauma, or MST, ranged over the years from .02 percent to 12 percent, with an average of 1.1 percent. Anonymity during questioning raised reports of male MST from .6 percent to 2.8 percent.
Researchers concluded there were many factors discouraging men from filing MST reports.
“Men may feel pressure to be ‘stoic warriors’ and may feel their ‘manhood’ earned through service has been stripped,” APA reported. “[Researchers] further found that men may experience sexual identity confusion. Taken as a whole, the research indicates significant barriers to disclosure of male MST, the majority of which can be captured under the broad umbrella of stigma and related self-report biases.”
The Pentagon’s official number of male sexual assaults reported in 2013 was 14,000. The Washington Times noted Tuesday that APA’s findings indicate a more accurate estimate of male MST is 210,000.
“Male veterans who reported being sexually assaulted while serving their country suffered more severe symptoms of PTSD and depression, had higher rates of suicidal thoughts and were more likely to enroll in outpatient mental health treatment than those who were not assaulted,” researchers concluded. The process involved surveying 180 combat veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
There are roughly 1.4 million U.S. military personnel on active duty.