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It is widespread knowledge that the Army retains a severe zero-tolerance policy on sexual assaults and abuse, however, it appears that such horrific incidents repeat themselves periodically. The Army has put in place efforts to monitor and address the perpetrators of these abhorrent acts, but it doesn’t pose much of a challenge to soldiers, particularly when they are inebriated, driven by what they perceive on social media in the form of online accounts of their targets and peer pressure.
We can do it today.
Alcohol abuse as a reason for sexual assaults in the Army
The intoxication is predominantly present at the outset and at the close of every incident report ever reviewed, explained SFC Hilton SHARP Representative at 4-160th SOAR (ABN). “Soldiers are courageous when it comes to performing their job, but not everyone has confidence to speak to a person of the opposite gender, especially when they have a crush,” commented SFC Hilton, “Liquid courage is the jargon used to define this new-found courage in these attackers.” Alcohol consumption degrades judgment and also reduces an individual’s restraint, so in the Army’s “Stand-To” initiative, they emphasized that alcohol is the foremost thing predators employ to gain bravery or impair their target. An estimated 44 percent of forcible sexual assaults are linked to alcohol consumption by the offender, the victim or both.
Social networks as a reason for sexual assaults in the Army
Another factor contributing to the recurrence of sexual assault incidents in the military is social media. Social media is nothing new to the military and its application can be both beneficial and damaging. There is no disputing the impact of social networks on modern society. Social media has become the standard and common lifestyle for soldiers of this millennial generation. Soldiers take and share photos on their social network accounts that provide an opportunity for criminals to hunt down their targets. Soldiers download these photos unaware that they are perhaps being monitored or plotted against. The demand for this kind of public spotlight has led to especially youthful, impressionable soldiers to recognize no limits, unconsciously welcoming abusers into their ordinary lives by presenting themselves in a lewd image that persuades criminals. By examining the behavior of their victims from what they post on social media, and even under the influence of alcohol, the perpetrator only needs to stage a scene where he can find himself face to face with his victim.
Ignoring existing incidents of sexual assaults as their cause
The ultimate factor behind the recurrence of sexual assault in the Army, in my subjective perception and according to my research, is not reporting such violence when you witness it happening. Soldiers in the vast majority of cases are inclined to see things unfolding and pretend not to notice too frequently. Not reporting an episode of sexual assault because you were not personally affected is an unacceptable response for anyone who witnesses such an incident. Allowing a sexual assailant to get away with it endangers others, both in and out of the military. Most cases of sexual violence are born out of harassment, particularly in the Army, when other soldiers see these horrific cases and close their eyes to them, then the perpetrators move on to the next stage and that is when the violence happens.
Consequently, the fight against sexual assaults in the Army is an ongoing phenomenon. Nevertheless, if soldiers do not stop binge-drinking, flaunt themselves on social media and do not inform about existing cases, they provide every opportunity for such unbearable cases to be repeated. Alcohol in any circumstance enables people to perform irrational decisions; social media, while important, can be damaging and deserve undesirable scrutiny because of the self-disclosure that people willingly provide, and not telling the perpetrators merely allows them to feel free to generate more victims. It is our duty as leaders to empower soldiers to completely comprehend the significance of sexual assault and ensure that they do not become victims or violators of the Armed Forces’ sexual harassment policy.