Speaking to ROTC cadets and midshipmen from a number of colleges and universities, Carter pointed out that “last year, we estimated that at least 18,900 service members — 10,400 men and 8,500 women — experienced unwanted sexual contact. And too few of them — particularly men — report these incidents as assaults.
Wait, what? Men can be victimes of sexual assault? Sad but true. Even sadder, most male victims are too embarrassed to report it.
The Secretary added that’s 18,900 too many, and that “no man or woman who serves in the U.S. military” should ever be sexually assaulted.” He then went on to say something that every one of us needs to hear.
“When victims are most vulnerable, their leadership and their fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines need to stand by them in solidarity, not turn their back or turn away. We need those assaulted to have people they can count on. It may not be easy, but I need you to be one of them — in person and online…. That’s why I need you to be leaders,” Carter said, “not just in the line of duty, but online also. I trust most of you would intervene if you saw someone being bullied around campus. But too many people let that stuff slide online — we know that — and sometimes offline too… We can’t allow those who do the right thing — either in reporting an assault or standing up to stop one,” he continued, “to be belittled on Facebook, ignored at [the] chow hall, passed over at promotion time, or mocked in the officers club. That’s counter to the ethos you signed up for, and it’s just plain wrong.”
Amen, Mr. Secretary. Amen.When people talk about sexual assault, the assumption is that the victims are all women and the perpetrators are all men. But in a speech on April 22, 2015 that didn’t get nearly enough coverage, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter demonstrated the dangers of assumptons (which, as one of my Marine Corps drill instructors was fond of saying, “make an ASS out of U and ME).