Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Women Need More Protection in the Military

Excellent post by Diane from the Adult Survivors of Child Abuse and Neglect website on domestic violence and child abuse--especially sexual abuse--in military families.


Women Need More Protection In The Military
March 29, 2010 by Diane

A couple of years ago I watched a brave woman soldier testify on Capitol Hill about abuse in the military. Even though it was televised and the politicians talked as if they would do something about it, I knew nothing would change. I grew up in a military family, and no one helped me either.

In Time[1] magazine this month, an article said that female soldiers who were deployed overseas stopped “drinking water after 7 P.M. to reduce the odds of being raped if they had to use the bathroom at night.” Representative Jane Harman said, “A female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.”

Both my father, a retired LCDR in the Navy who has passed away, and my brother made the military their career. Both used violence, rape, and molestation to get their needs met at home. Who knows what they did when overseas.

I also remember attending a conference in the early 1990s where the military was lecturing in one room about family violence—how much they were concerned about it. I stood up and said, “I was taken to every dispensary in the Navy from Balboa in San Diego to Little Creek in Norfolk, Virginia, but no one questioned possible abuse at home.” Their response was, “The Navy isn’t a social agency.” And you wonder why soldiers get away with most of the violent attacks against their female counterparts. How many of these rapists are just like my father and brother who also molest their children at home?

Yes, there is more awareness. Yes, there have been edicts on high from the Department of Defense that this behavior isn’t acceptable. But the culture hasn’t changed. It is still a violent, macho environment where too many commanders look the other way and don’t make the need to prohibit sexual violence a high priority for their unit’s morale. The Time article also stated that between 2008 and 2009, the victims of rape or assault among women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan rose 25%.

Not every soldier is sexually abusive. My most beloved manager at the Fortune 20 company where I worked and who died suddenly of a heart attack, served his country honorably in Vietnam. It’s just a shame that his leadership isn’t employed in the military today as it relates to attacking fellow female soldiers.

[1] “The War Within,” Time, March 8, 2010