Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.There is an ongoing problem with sexual assault in the U.S. military which has received extensive media coverage in the past several years. A 2012 Pentagon survey found that approximately 26,000 women and men were sexually assaulted. Of those, only 3,374 cases were reported. In 2013, a new pentagon study found that 5,061 troops reported cases of assault. Many people are optimistic that this 50% increase in reports is indicative of victims “growing more comfortable in the system.” Of these reported, however, only 484 cases went to trial, and only 376 resulted in convictions. Ninety percent of the assault victims were eventually involuntarily discharged. Another investigation found that only one in five females and one in 15 males in the United States Air Force would report having been sexually assaulted by service members.
Incidents which have been publicized include the Tailhook scandal in 1991, the Aberdeen scandal in 1996 and the 2003 US Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal. In an attempt to deal with this problem, the Defense Department has issued the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Response policy. A provision in the fiscal 2004 National Defense Authorization Act required investigation and reporting regarding sexual harassment and assault at the United States military academies. A report was published in the New York Times magazine in March 2007 which surveyed women soldiers’ experience in the Iraq War showing significant incidence of post traumatic stress syndromeresulting from the combination of combat stress and sexual assault. 15% of female veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have visited a VA facility have screened positive for military sexual trauma.