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Sexual assault is a big topic in the Army only because the numbers seem to continue to increase without answers. According to Merriam-Webster.com sexual assault it’s an, ‘illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent due to age, physical, or mental incapability.’ Sexual assault is illegal meaning that a legal justice system is needed for judgment, is this why the numbers are increasing cause the Army do not treat these cases in a legal setting or is it cause the victims do not want to push for any legal punishments?
There’s never really a complete answer on ‘why does sexual assault occur?’ I feel the most common sexual assault incidents that occurs in the Army are alcohol related. Alcohol impairs your judgment and your body functions. A person that doesn’t know their limit with alcohol or if they do not have a good friend around makes it easier for predators to attack them. These offenders pray on individuals that look hopeless and incapable to make rational decisions.
I believe that the Army approach to the training could reduce the risk of sexual assault. The reason I say that it could is because a lot of Army individuals do not take the SHARP program serious until they are in a sexual assault situation. Some feel like it’s just another training that they just have to attend and be marked that they were present for training. The SHARP program also known as sexual harassment assault/ response and prevention program was created to help prevent sexual harassment/assault before it happens and it’s also a guide to help those who has been put in sexual harassment/ assault situation. Informing people how to go about reporting the incident and what makes it an restricted or non-restricted case.
The Army has two types of reporting options. The Restricted reporting, ‘allows the victim to report the crime to specified individuals who can then ensure the victim receives medical care, SARC or VA assistance, treatment, and counseling without notifying command or law enforcement officials.’ This gives the victim time to decide if they want to report this crime to the law enforcement. The second option Unrestricted reporting offers the same medical care as restricted but it includes an official investigation of the crime. ‘The healthcare provider will also conduct a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) where they collect evidence from the victim from the assault. The victim chain of command will be notified but details regarding the incident will be limited to only those personnel who have a legitimate need to know basis.’ With these two types of reporting options if the victim does choose Restricted they can switch to Unrestricted at anytime. They cannot switch from Unrestricted to Restricted. Honestly the victim has the choice to report the crime however they would like. So with this information why are the numbers still increasing? Maybe victims are using the Restricted reporting more than the Unrestricted reporting. I hear a lot that the restricted reporting is the most commonly use reporting in the Army. When a victim use Restricted reporting their only reporting that they were sexually assaulted but no justice is being put forth on the offender, which leaves them free to harm others.
We can’t really end sexual assault in the Army, but we can try and push more on the Unrestricted reporting so that those who are sexually assaulting people are being recognized. They need to be given some type of punishment or jail time for the crime. I feel that if we implement a more harsher punishment people would think twice about sexually assaulting others. Also while doing this we have to protect the victims more. This should decrease the numbers by a lot if this was implemented. Sexual assault is and will always be a big topic in the Army until the numbers decrease. The numbers will not change overnight this is something that will take time and it should start with us, the leaders of the Army. We have to be advocates and preach to the lower enlisted. Make sure they understand that they have options and ensure that they don’t put themselves in a position where they end up as a sexual assault victim or offender.
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