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Military, Sexual Violence Prevention

How to Report Sexual Assault in the Military

November 13, 2023

Did you know safeguarding the military goes beyond battlefield training? The government must make the military a force to be reckoned with and a place where every service member feels safe and respected, and one way to do so is through sexual assault prevention training. A team must be strong internally in order to be impactful externally. 

members of the military after military sexual assault prevention

Defining Sexual Assault in the Military

Sexual assault in the military refers to any unwelcome sexual contact or actions, such as harassment or sexual violence, involving a service member. This form of assault undermines trust and cohesion within the military community and poses a threat to the well-being of those who serve. 

How Common is It?

To truly understand why we need to act urgently, let’s look at the numbers. In 2021 alone, there was a 25.6% increase in reported cases of sexual assault within the military compared to the previous year. While there are many reasons numbers rise, it’s clear the problem is not going anywhere. 

Thousands of service members experience sexual assault every year, making it crystal clear that we must act as soon as possible. The situation also emphasizes the need for reporting incidents and implementing preventive measures for members of the armed forces. 

Reporting Mechanisms in the Military

Reporting sexual assault in the military involves several steps and options to give survivors the support and resources they need. Let’s take a closer look at the different reporting mechanisms available. 

Restricted Reporting 

Restricted reporting prioritizes the privacy and confidentiality of survivors while still providing access to support services. When a survivor chooses restricted reporting, they can share their experience with healthcare providers and victim advocates without initiating a formal investigation. 

This system is valuable for survivors who may not be ready to involve law enforcement but still need medical care, counseling, and support. 

Unrestricted Reporting 

Unrestricted reporting is the choice to initiate a formal investigation into the sexual assault incident. When a survivor chooses this option, law enforcement agencies and military legal authorities become involved in the case. It can lead to legal proceedings against the perpetrator, and it ensures a thorough examination of the incident. 

Chain of Command Reporting 

When a service member experiences sexual assault, they can report it to their immediate superiors or higher-ranking personnel within their chain of command. This option is considered “unrestricted” and allows for a more formal approach, where the chain of command can address the issue directly within the military unit. 

Reporting Outside the Chain of Command 

Finally, survivors can report sexual assault outside of their immediate chain of command if they feel uncomfortable reporting within their unit. Depending on the path they choose, this may be “restricted” or “unrestricted”, but they can do this through military law enforcement agencies or offices designated to handle sexual assault cases. 

The Need for Military Sexual Assault Prevention Programs

Prevention programs about sexual assault help spread awareness and build a culture within the military that values respect and accountability. They cover various key topics, such as: 

– Understanding the trauma experienced by survivors

– Recognizing the patterns of offenders

– Exploring societal norms that turn a blind eye or even encourage problematic behavior

– Addressing the role of alcohol in these incidents

– Integrating the core military values into the process of eradicating sexual assault from its ranks 

Moreover, these programs are tailored to address specific aspects of military culture, which makes them highly relevant and effective in preventing sexual assault within the armed forces. 

mother and daughter after military sexual assault prevention

Interested in Military Sexual Assault Prevention Programs?

If you want to learn more about sexual assault prevention programs and courses for the military, government, colleges, or workplaces, we encourage you to contact Catharsis Productions. 

We offer a range of programs, available both online and in-person, aimed at promoting awareness and preventing sexual assault in various settings. Request more information today! 

Catharsis Productions

Catharsis Productions' mission is to change the world by producing innovative, accessible and 
research-supported programming that challenges oppressive attitudes and shifts behavior.