Speaking Up Often Means Retaliation

Unfortunately, most of the time the repercussions of coming forward contribute to even more trauma for the victim. Retaliation for voicing a rape allegation is a serious issue within the military.

An astonishing statistic states, “Troops who have reported sexual assaults are 12 times more likely to be retaliated against than to see their attacker convicted of sex crimes,” once again mirroring the serious issue rape culture (Brook). In research done by the Pentagon it was said that, “62% of those troops reporting sexual assault in 2014 indicated that they had been subjected to some form of retaliation” (Brook).

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The harmful effects of rape culture cause victims to feel as if it is their fault that they were attacked and that they are responsible. Some examples of retaliation include an Air Force woman recalling being called a “bitch,” being “told, ‘You got what you deserved,’” and being accused of “’ruining’ her attacker’s career” (Brooke). A Marine had her car vandalized, a picture posted of her on Facebook with posts saying “’find her, tag her, haze her, make her life a living hell’” (Brooke). An Air Force member Ciera Bridges said that after reporting the attack “said she was transferred, demoted and threatened with a dishonorable discharge” (Brooke). Unfortunately, these are NOT isolated incidents. Don Christensen, in charge of a group for military sexual assault survivors explains that many say “…Retaliation was the worst part,” and many “wish they hadn’t come forward” (Brook).

Overall, these harmful and unjust repercussions on people who are simply coming forward to report and give voice to an injustice are experiencing more trauma instead of healing. Rape culture lets us get away with this because it has normalized violence against women, allowing reports to not be taken seriously and simultaneously excuses the actions of men because “Men are sexual beings are cannot control themselves.” Both these ideas are damaging to men and women and must be realized in order to change the system and the way we, as a society, view and handle sexual assault.

Many feminist theories recognize these faulty assumptions, refuting the idea that men are animalistic and that women are to be blamed for being raped. The dehumanizing and destructive effects of rape culture must be recognized in order for change to take place.

Hannah Mapes

Sources:

http://www.swords-to-plowshares.org/2015/05/29/interpreting-data-on-military-sexual-assault/

Brook, Tome Vanden. “Insults to Injury: Military Sexual-assault Victims Endure Retaliation.” Usatoday.com. USA Today, 18 May 2015. Web. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/05/18/military-sexual-assault-retaliation/27395845/&gt;.

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