Joint Press Release: Tsongas, Turner give victims a voice at briefing on Male Military Sexual Assault
Michael Hartigan (Tsongas): 202-225-3411
Lauren O’Toole (Turner): (202) 450-7398
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus hosted a briefing in order to better inform Congress about male sexual assaults in the military, and to give male victims a chance to be heard.
The latest report from the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) showed that more men are victims of sexual assault in the military than women, but that men are less likely to come forward and report. The claim is supported by a March, 2015 GAO report that estimated at most only 13 percent of males reported their assaults, which is significantly lower than the percentage of females who report. Both reports cite that retaliation against victims continues to be a pervasive problem.
Speaking at the briefing today were: Dr. Nathan Galbreath, Senior Executive Advisor for the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office; Dr. Susan J. McCutcheon, Director of Family Services, Women’s Mental Health, and Military Sexual Trauma, VA Women’s Health Services; Brian Lewis, President and Co-Founder of Mr. MST; Ruth Moore, Military Sexual Assault Survivor, namesake of the Ruth Moore Act and Founder of Internity, a non-profit for survivors of military sexual assault; Yelena Tsilker, Program and Policy Associate at Protect Our Defenders; and several survivors of Male Sexual Assault.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH) are co-chairs of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus. Rep. Tsongas and Rep. Turner co-authored legislation that directly addresses male military sexual assault and was included in the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act. Their legislation requires DOD to create a comprehensive strategy to prevent retaliation and protect those who experience it, and improve training for commanders. It also requires DOD to better train and educate servicemembers about the sexual assault of men; provide the medical and mental health needs specific to male survivors; and develop Department-wide metrics to better understand and address the issue.
Following today’s briefing, Rep. Tsongas and Rep. Turner released the following joint statement:
“There is a stigma placed on male victimization in both civilian and military society, and much more work needs to be done to encourage male servicemembers to come forward and report the crimes, and to protect men from retaliation once they do report sexual assault.
“Today’s discussion underscores the need for a targeted approach to addressing sexual assault against men, but the goals remain the same for all survivors: prevent assaults, encourage reporting, provide effective services for survivors and reform the military justice system that too often fails those who have been sexually assaulted.
“Thank you to our colleagues and staff members who attended today. And our sincerest gratitude goes out to the brave men who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault for telling their stories today.
“For years we have worked across the aisle to make significant changes to the military justice system and military culture that allow these crimes to occur at such an alarming rate. We remain committed to ensuring our Colleagues in Congress, the public and men and women in uniform are educated on this issue. By holding these briefings we can reach a larger audience and give a voice to many of those who have suffered alone.”