Sexual Assault and the Military

Sexual Assault is a general term that includes sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact, child sexual abuse, incest, and rape. Sexual contact becomes assault when a person is unable to or does not consent to an activity. Rape is a crime of aggression, power, and control in which one person forces, coerces, or manipulates another person to have sexual intercourse without their consent. Rape includes vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by any object (including fingers) and also includes forced oral sex.

Restricted Reporting is an option that enables active duty sexual assault victims to report or disclose a sexual assault without triggering an official investigation. This reporting option allows military victims to receive medical treatment, advocacy, and counseling on a confidential basis. Restricted reports automatically change to unrestricted reports if base security, law enforcement, or command learns about the sexual assault. Limited Reporting is similar to restricted reporting, and is available to National Guard members who are on Title 10 status.

Unrestricted Reporting is an option that allows active duty sexual assault victims to disclose a sexual assault and have those details reported to military law enforcement. This option triggers an official military investigation.

Facts & Figures

According to Department of Defense figures for 2008, there were 2,908 reports of sexual assault in all branches of the U.S. military. 2,155 were unrestricted reports and 753 were restricted reports. 110 restricted reports were changed to unrestricted reports.

6.8% of women and 1.8% of men in the armed forces reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact. 79% of women and 78% of men chose not to report their assaults. 163 military sexual assaults were reported in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007, only 8% of reported military sexual assaults were referred to court-martial.