Fixing Rape in the Military


Yes, Friends….here we go again!  This is a second case involving a Sexual Assault Preventation and Response unit NCO.  Apparently, he is accused of running a little prostitution ring and with having sexually assaulted a Private First Class. 

Can you hear us now!!!???  How many more do you have to see – how many more accusations? 

Everyone keeps talking about “how do we fix this?”  Well, I am going to share my thoughts on the “fix.”  No, it will not be easy – but nothing good is easy!  This year shows 26,000 new “club members.”  Leaving it alone is NOT an option!

1.  Replace “military” SAPRO with “prior-service” civilian contractors.  Prior service allows them to understand the military system.  Civilian contracting takes them out of the military’s sphere of control.  SAPRO should answer only to the Secretary of Defense. 

2.  All Civilian contractors working for SAPRO must be certified in peer support or social work.  They must have an understanding of trauma and recovery, as well as, training in the criminal justice system.  They also need medical training and they must be trained in rape crisis intervention!

3.  ALL physical examinations done after an assault MUST be done by a civilian facility if possible.  IF this cannot be done a SAPRO representative MUST be present and take possession of the rape kit.  NO rape kit should EVER be placed in military hands!

4.  Commanders and 1st Sergeants who fail to contact a  SAPRO representative IMMEDIATELY in a sexual assault or a reported rape will be removed from their post pending an investigation.  This goes for ALL leadership.  If the Commander reports it and the Battalion Commander doesn’t follow through – then the Battalion Commander is held responsible and removed.  If it is the Squad Leader – that goes for them, too.  ZERO TOLERANCE mean ZERO TOLERANCE!  If my career comes down to “him/her or me” believe me…I am reporting “him/her.”  (remembering that rape can be committed by either gender)

5.  All military sexual trauma cases should be turned over to civilian authority.  Both the accuser and the accused should have an attorney – civilian – and both should have a military attorney to act as an advisor. 

6.  Oops – I almost forgot about the Special Victims Units.  Also – Civilian contractors with prior military experience who are trained to work with assault victims.  They need to be contacted before the SAPRO rep.  They take over with the victim…the MP’s can deal with the accused.  This allows for a “second look” and both groups to work together.  If the accused is innocent – then that will be proven.  However, false reporting of “rape” is very rare.  Especially knowing that it will currently end the career of the victim!

Let the law be the law – the police be the police and the judges be the judge – don’t allow Commanders or NCO’s to affect what is happening.  Remove BOTH parties from the unit. 

7.  Return to segregated Basic Training.  I know that sounds weird – but it removes the male/female interaction that distracts from the initial training.  I have spoken with several females that went through co-ed basic and they were “pushed aside” to train the “real soldiers.”  I was trained in an all female company – although we did have male cadre and drill sergeants.  The females had a real opportunity to bond and to be trained.  We received the same training and we learned how to do things in a way that could overcome our physical differences from the men.  I was very lucky – our male drill sergeants were truly the best of the best!  Using this system means that you are integrating “soldiers” into AIT – not a bunch of high school kids!

It all seems so “hard” but it really doesn’t have to be!  Yes – things are going to be harder in a combat zone…the war makes life very different.  But there are people who seem to say, “This is what happens when you put men and women together.”  That is just bull!  I work with men all day long.  I spend more time with the men I work with than I do with my own husband…we all do.  However, no one is running around here raping their co-workers!  I work with both an MD and an RN who have “authority” over me and who are men – and both of them are complete professionals.  I am never afraid to be alone in a room with one of them and none of them are pushing me against desks and trying to grope me!  They don’t make sexually inappropriate statements, they don’t have porn hanging in their offices, they don’t behave in disgusting ways. 

Why is it that we don’t need to segregate the civilian workforce by gender to prevent rape?

I will tell you why – most of us are “professionals.”  Not everyone is…of course…but, by in large,  we treat one another with respect.  If an accusation is made – there are people to handle it – and they do handle it.  My boss can’t go to the police or to the “judge” and overturn an accusation, they can’t stop the process and they can’t fire me if I make a complaint.  They don’t want to pay the consequences of a lawsuit.  However, the military doesn’t seem to mind because there are no “consequences.”

It is long past time to do something to stop this!  Yes, it will be painful.  Yes, it will be a powerful change for the military.  NO – it will not reduce military readiness!  If anything, it will improve readiness because we won’t have to worry about rape in the ranks!  It will help the military recruit and retain good people.

The military is supposed to be a “professional organization” – let’s start acting like it!

Joan

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4 Responses to “Fixing Rape in the Military”

  1. butterflykitten Says:

    I agree with most of your points. I’ve also had ideas in my head, but you pointed out stuff I missed. The only thing I really don’t get, I think you already realized people might take issue with.
    The segregated Basic Training. First thing I thought of was back before my time, schools being required to be “separate but equal”. What makes you think that it will be equal for the females? Will their DSs take them seriously or look at training them to be a punishment. Besides, the males will need to learn that we are also Soldiers. If the tone is set that early that we need to be separated, they will continue on looking down at us. It will end up being “They had it easier at basic”
    I do feel that alot of the issues could be reduced with good first line supervision. As a NCO, I don’t know how many times I was hindered from helping MY OWN Soldiers. First lines are important but need the backing from the chain of command. We are not leaders just to say “Hey Look, I made SGT, now I can boss people around!” However, I know several peers that are not good people and if they were my first line, I would not go to them. Heck, as we’ve been seeing, its been the officers and NCOs getting caught. The young Soldier learn from them.
    Stay tuned. Your blog inspired me to take my ideas out of my head. (Please don’t feel I am stepping on your toes. Imitation is they best form of flattery, they say) I think combined, we have a fool-proof system! (You literally hit on the things I missed, though mine is coming from a different angle. I should have it up by the weekend (if I don’t get lazy) 🙂

    • enemyinthewire Says:

      You make some excellent points – and I am really enjoying reading your blog! Thank you for having the courage to share your story and step out with your voice.

      I agree that there are issues with segregating basic training – like females not being trained to the same standard as males. Like you said, as an NCO, that is going to depend on the drill sergeants and the cadre. I am sure you have had to work with a sub-standard soldier, one that just couldn’t seem to get it together, as front-line leadership we make the choice to help them or to dump them off somewhere else. I had a female E-4 once that just insisted on wearing pink eye shadow with her “war paint.” Yup…pink eye shadow and cammo…it was a scary thing. She was more interested in appearing “pretty” than looking like a soldier.

      I think I was very lucky, I had some great drill sergeants that really cared about making soldiers. Drill Sgt K and I got along really well, he was a dead ringer for the actor Brian Dennehy, and so when I had door guard duty we would chat. Our company was his first female cycle and he had a lot of things to say about training females – and he was kind enough to share them with me.

      He stated that we were the easiest platoon he had ever had (we were all female.) We learned quickly, we accepted authority, we worked hard. Unlike males, he said, we seemed to more internally driven towards success. He had expected a lot of “drama” since most of the cycle was 17 and 18 years old – but he was surprised that we seemed to naturally support one another and handle our disagreements without involving cadre.

      I think he probably “ruined” my entire military career – he gave me an image of a good NCO. He treated us like soldiers, was respectful, corrected behavior when necessary but rewarded hard work. He didn’t play favorites. He placed our needs first – his needs last. He was last in the chow line, first to praise us. He taught me so much about being an NCO! I would love the chance to thank him. In fact, every drill sergeant in our company was a good NCO. That has been one of my sticking points in my therapy process.

      You are absolutely right! In the end it all comes down to the person – the individual. We have to create good NCO’s and Officers. This substandard stuff just isn’t cutting it!

      Joan

      • butterflykitten Says:

        Wow! That does sound good. Now that you put it like that, I think I can see the benefit. For basic, it could work. I can see mixing genders for the job training (AIT, Tech school, or whatever the other branches call it), as that is where they start learning their jobs. I also think it would be good for training all of the males the dos and dont’s in a more controlled environment. Those standards can be monitored and strictly enforced in the follow-on training. I am glad you had a good experience in basic. I went to a mixed one and had a good experience, as well, but now I am hearing of all of these assaults occurring in basic. We got lucky!
        For me, the sad part is that there is already a system in place. Leaders have gotten so selfish and full of a sense of entitlement. I no longer trust the leadership. I honestly feel that about half of them are incapable of properly doing their job. I know that sounds like a large number, but it is. Typically for each Soldier screwed over, there were 2-3 leaders that failed that Soldier. Either the leaders are bad or they are being discouraged, even reprimanded (like I was) for trying to take care of Soldiers (However, they already hated me and I did not care if I got in trouble for looking out for my Soldier. I slept so much better at night doing the right thing) Though I was fighting hard to stay in, I am now ready to go. These Army Values mean nothing to those that feel above the law. It is now a big game of let’s cover each other’s butts. Loyalty has taken on a whole new meaning. I want it to get better for those that come after us, but I am no longer strong enough to take this abuse of power. I want out while I still have some dignity (not much) and sanity left. I plan on going into psychology, whereas hopefully I can make a difference.

  2. My Partial Solution | screwednomore Says:

    […] https://enemyinthewire.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/fixing-rape-in-the-military/ […]

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