A Sign of Confidence in the System

The Air Force’s portion of the Defense Department’s annual report on sexual assaults in the military shows a slight decrease in reports, from 1,350 in Fiscal 2014 to 1,312 in Fiscal 2015; however, the percentage of restricted reports filed by male survivors increased from 16.5 percent in 2014 to 22.8 percent last year. In recent years, DOD officials have said again and again that increased reporting is a sign of victim confidence in the system, and the Air Force’s report notes that the service believes an increase in reporting that began in Fiscal 2012 indicates that more victims are coming forward, not that more people are experiencing sexual assault. But despite efforts to encourage reporting, a 2015 survey of survivors found that nearly 70 percent said they had experienced some form of retaliation, including 38 percent who said the retaliation was a type that is against military law. The Pentagon and members of Congress have recently proposed measures in an attempt to discourage and ultimately stop retaliation against those who do report sexual assault.