The military keeps it quiet...
...but men who enlist in the United States Military are ten times more likely to be sexually assaulted (on average one in six men will experience sexual abuse- via). That translates to nearly 14,000 victims in 2012.
It's a staggering number, and perhaps more disturbing has been the military's response. Instead of providing support for victims and prosecuting perpetrators, evidence suggests that instead the military has been silencing victims by falsely diagnosing them with personality disorders. Not only does this discredit them, it means they are no longer entitled to care from the government, because the VA considers a personality disorder to be a pre-existing condition. (Via).
How could something like this happen?
There is a culture of shame when it comes to rape victims, and male victims are not excluded. When victims speak up, they are often met with disbelief. This problem is compounded in the military, where often there's no one a victim can report to. They believe that their attackers will not be punished- and they're not wrong. The conviction rate in MST cases that go to trial is just 7 percent- and only 81% of male victims report at all- via.
"Sometimes as a guy if you wanna fit in you have to hide your pain."
On average, men don't tell anyone they've been raped for 20 years (via). That's twenty years of fear-induced silence. Because we have all of these unhealthy assumptions about men. We joke that men always want sex- but what about when they don't? We treat men's emotions as trivial, because men's feelings are untouchable- but what about when they aren't? We assume that when men join the military they'll be keeping us safe- but how much thought do we give for their safety?
What can we do?
This isn't just a few bad people. This is a systemic problem- victims are given no credibility or recourse, while attackers are not held accountable.
Stop buying into the myths. Rape isn't about sexuality- as many people assume- it's about control. It's about intimidating the victim, having power over them.
Believe victims. Listen to them instead of dismissing them. Don't make assumptions about how they feel or what they need. Don't ask them what they were wearing, what they were doing that could have caused it. It's not their fault.
Be vocal in your support. In 2014 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand tried to revive a bill that would have taken MST cases out of military jurisdiction by taking away commanders' power to determine whether to prosecute sex assaults, delegating them instead to independent military prosecutors. The Senate blocked its legislation because it didn't have enough votes to beat a filibuster. That is unacceptable. If we don't hold our government accountable for enacting change, it will never be done. And our vets deserve better.