IMPACT

Report Aims To Bust Stigma Against Military Men Who Face Sexual Assault

"It seems to have to do with retribution, with dominance, with power -- a lot of the dynamics we typically see in rape."

When discussing how to combat military sexual assault and trauma, we often neglect to discuss how the epidemic affects men.

According to a new study, assaults against men could be as much as 15 times higher than previously thought due to massive underreporting.

Dr. Jessica Keith, program manager for The Center of Sexual Trauma Services, told HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski last week that the stigma against men in the military is significant.

"We've looked at male rape myth and we know there are a lot in society, including that a man can't be raped at all or that a strong man can't be raped, and these interact with military culture, with its emphasis on strength and winning a battle at any cost," Keith said.

She added that she and fellow clinicians have heard hundreds of stories of men being raped on active duty by fellow service members or groups of people.

"It seems to have to do with retribution, with dominance, with power -- a lot of the dynamics we typically see in rape," Keith said.

Sean Sheppard, a research fellow at the National Center For Veteran Studies, said an ingrained culture of shame will make it difficult to completely eradicate the problem, but "peeling back the veil and really identifying how commonly does this occur is at least a starting point."

Keith added that decreasing the stigma and secrecy through conversations is imperative. 

"Continuing educational efforts that show that not just women but men suffer this, too, in terms of the materials that are out there and these soldiers see would really help," Keith said. "The sooner folks could report this, the sooner they can get the help they really need."

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