Sunday, April 15, 2012

CNN - Rape Victims in Military Given Personality Disorder Diagnosis and Discharged

It is estimated that nearly 1 in 3 female military veterans were victims of rape or sexual assault by their fellow soldiers (Time, March 8, 2010) while serving on active duty. Now it seems that the military, rather than deal with the issue, is blaming victims by diagnosing them with a personality disorder and discharging them

For those who do not know what this means, it is widely considered (albeit wrongly) that personality disorders are incurable - so giving someone a personality disorder diagnosis (Axis II in the DSM-IV-TR) is labeling them as "crazy." Once this diagnosis is given, it will follow these women for life, impacting their employment options, their insurance costs, and many other areas of their lives, not least of which is their sense of self.

This is fucked up - these women are victimized by their fellow soldiers, then they are further victimized by the patriarchal military system. Adding further insult, dumbass talking heads on networks like Fox News are blaming them as well:
“I think they have actually discovered there is a difference between men and women. And the sexual abuse report says that there has been, since 2006, a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults. Now, what did they expect? These people are in close contact, the whole airing of this issue has never been done by Congress, it’s strictly been a question of pressure from the feminist.”

She then noted that the budget of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office increased from $5 million in 2005 to more than $23 million in 2010.

“So, you have this whole bureaucracy upon bureaucracy being built up with all kinds of levels of people to support women in the military who are now being raped too much,” Trotta remarked.
Is this how we should make sense of the violence? Military women should expect to be raped because they are serving in close proximity to men? Men cannot control their beastly sexual urges when they are around women?

It must be noted, despite the belief that rape is about sex, that most rape is about anger, power, humiliation, or some other motivation (control, revenge, and so on) and is NOT about sex. Please keep that in my mind throughout this post.

Cultural and literary critic Camille Paglia thinks women need to get beyond the feminist idea that men and women are equal (from PBS - Rape: The most intimate of crimes).
In her book, Sex, Art and American Culture, Camille Paglia calls these "somber truths" women must accept. "Feminism keeps saying the sexes are the same," she writes. "It keeps telling women they can do anything, go anywhere, say anything, wear anything. No, they can't. Women will always be in sexual danger." She may be right, but that doesn't necessarily make rape a woman's responsibility.
Meanwhile, Gloria Steinem believes we need to stop worrying about who gets raped (aside from being focused on the 18-24 age range, there are few other patterns, and even older women are targets) and start looking at who does the raping:
"We have to stop talking about who gets raped and talk about who rapes. Somebody is doing these things. And we have to identify who they are." Who is that somebody? Why do men rape women? And how do you stop them?
When humans lived in a world of physical power, small tribal groups, tenuous survival, and little to no higher cognitive function (such as guilt or empathy), rape may have been a part of life. Or at least that is what the evolutionary psychologists argue, and they contend those same drives are still present in our psychological make-up as a species.

They may be partially correct - rape is more likely when social structures break down in famine, natural disasters, and warfare. To a certain degree, social structure helps reduce violence and enforces norms of behavior.

Further, while we tend to think of primates as more sexually violent, Frans de Waal and other primatologists present very different viewpoints. Barbara Smuts (Discover, Aug. 1995) observes:
Orangutans and chimpanzees are the only nonhuman primates whose males in the wild force females to copulate, while males of several other species, such as vervet monkeys and bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees), rarely if ever try to coerce females sexually. Between the two extremes lie many species, like hamadryas baboons, in which males do not force copulation but nonetheless use threats and intimidation to get sex.

Clearly, this behavior is not common to all primates, and bonobos offer the best example of a culture where male assault never has been recorded - interestingly, we are as closely related to bonobos as we are to chimpanzees.
A unique aspect of bonobo society is that they are a female-dominated species thanks to the network of support that exists between bonobo females. Chimpanzee females are largely isolated from one another, but bonobo females come to one another’s aid. While there may be genetic differences that account for the lack of sexual coercion in bonobos, one important factor is the different environment that promotes these cooperative networks and limits the usefulness of male coercion (see my interview with Frans de Waal for more on this topic). Male bonobos mate more frequently by gaining support from these female networks rather than using sexual coercion as can be found in chimpanzees. Males grow up with this “culture” and observe the older males in their troop emphasize grooming over aggression and then adapt their own behavior in order to maximize their reproductive success.
But even among baboons, where sexual violence is common, where the physically dominant male forces females into sexual relations, there is a clear pattern of learned behavior that can be unlearned in a single generation (as related by Robert Sapolsky in his essay “A Natural History of Peace” for the journal Foreign Affairs [pdf here] and cited in Scientific American, July 20, 2011):
Male baboons have been known to viciously maul a female that has rejected their advances and the level of male aggression is strongly correlated with their mating success. However, in a unique natural experiment Stanford primatologist Robert Sapolsky observed what developed when the largest and most aggressive males died out in a group known as Forest Troop (because they were feeding at the contaminated dump site of a Western safari lodge). In the intervening years Forest Group developed a culture in which kindness was rewarded more than aggression and adolescent males who migrated into the troop adopted this culture themselves.
Clearly, there is a learned component to this form of behavior that is not inherent in baboon culture. So why are human males still prone to sexual violence - millennia after we have outgrown the conditions that may have supported such behavior - and why does male sexual violence seem worse in the military?

Why doesn't military structure offer some of the same protective structure against rape as civilian culture? Maybe there is something about the military culture that also produces or encourages this behavior? According to U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (CA), the system is completely broken.
The Department of Defense estimates that more than 19,000 service members were raped or sexually assaulted in 2010. Due to a military culture heavy on retaliation and light on prosecution, only 13.5 percent of the victims report the rape.

The system of justice designed to adjudicate cases of rape in the military is in complete shambles. Victims are blamed. Assailants are promoted. Unit commanders - whose promotions are dependent on the conduct and performance of the soldiers they supervise - have an incentive to see that allegations are few and convictions are fewer. As a result, the overwhelming majority of cases get swept under the rug.

This abomination is not new. The Pentagon has largely ignored the recommendations of 18 reports on sexual assault and rape in the military over the past 16 years. As a result, the problem is now worse than ever.
Rep. Speier says there have been many reports outlining the problems and suggesting changes, but the Pentagon has systematically ignored them.
It took four years and the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to finally establish a statutorily required commission to investigate reports of sexual misconduct in the military. His successor, Robert Gates, has yet to implement a statutorily required database that would centralize all reports of rapes and sexual assaults in the military.

It is time for the Pentagon to stop treating legal directives as mere suggestions. And it is time for Congress to abandon its role as a bystander.
One might begin to believe that military leaders have a "boys will be boys" mindset that allows them to write off the prevalence of rape and sexual assault as part of the culture. The way they handle the issue - or more accurately, don't handle it - reflects a kind of thinking that allows this behavior to continue.

In the 2010 Time article cited above, the fears of the victims of retaliation and absence of confidentiality prevent them from reporting the rapes and assaults 80-90% of the time.
The Pentagon estimates that 80% to 90% of sexual assaults go unreported, and it's no wonder. Anonymity is all but impossible; a Government Accountability Office report concluded that most victims stay silent because of "the belief that nothing would be done; fear of ostracism, harassment, or ridicule; and concern that peers would gossip." More than half feared they would be labeled troublemakers. A civilian who is raped can get confidential, or "privileged," advice from her doctors, lawyers, victim advocates; the only privilege in the military applies to chaplains. A civilian who knows her assailant has a much better chance of avoiding him than does a soldier at a remote base, where filing charges can be a career killer — not for the assailant but the victim. Women worry that they will be removed from their units for their own "protection" and talk about not wanting to undermine their missions or the cohesion of their units. And then some just do the math: only 8% of cases that are investigated end in prosecution, compared with 40% for civilians arrested for sex crimes. Astonishingly, about 80% of those convicted are honorably discharged nonetheless.
This is horrible - it is a system designed to protect the perpetrators and ostracize the victims. I have some suggestions for reform based not on patriarchal military standards but on civilian criminal law.
  • ANY victim of rape and assault, male or female (and there are many male victims as well), should hold the same rights to confidentiality with doctors and mental health providers as do civilians.
  • ANY allegations of rape or sexual assault should be fully investigated within 48-72 hours and disciplinary actions be taken as quickly as possible. This is much more possible in the military than in the civilian world.
  • ANY soldier or officer found to have committed a rape or sexual assault should be dishonorably discharged immediately and should serve appropriate jail time.
This is not what is happening, however. Rather, military leaders are waging an internal war on women who are, in their view, silly enough to get raped and report the crime. They are not seeking to punish the rapists, they are labeling the women crazy and discharging them from service.

This is shit - but CNN is reporting that this is exactly what is happening - and some of the women are coming forward with their stories.

Rape victims say military labels them 'crazy'

By David S. Martin, CNN
Sat April 14, 2012
Stephanie Schroeder, Anna Moore, Jenny McClendon and Panayiota Bertzikis say they were raped and then discharged from the military.
Stephanie Schroeder, Anna Moore, Jenny McClendon, and Panayiota Bertzikis 
say they were raped and then discharged from the military.

  • Women accuse military of using psychiatric diagnoses to oust sexual assault victims
  • "I couldn't trust my chain of command to ever back me up," says an alleged victim
  • 3,191 military sexual assaults reported in '11: "Unacceptable," says defense secretary
  • Pentagon is assessing its training for sexual assault prevention and response
Editor's note: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will report further on allegations of sexual assault in the military Saturday and Sunday April 21 and 22 at 7:30 a.m. ET on "Sanjay Gupta MD" on CNN.

(CNN) -- Stephanie Schroeder joined the U.S. Marine Corps not long after 9/11. She was a 21-year-old with an associate's degree when she reported for boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.

"I felt like it was the right thing to do," Schroeder recalls.

A year and a half later, the Marines diagnosed her with a personality disorder and deemed her psychologically unfit for the Corps.

Anna Moore enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and planned to make a career of it. Moore was a Patriot missile battery operator in Germany when she was diagnosed with a personality disorder and dismissed from the Army.

Jenny McClendon was serving as a sonar operator on a Navy destroyer when she received her personality disorder diagnosis.

These women joined different branches of the military but they share a common experience:
Each received the psychiatric diagnosis and military discharge after reporting a sexual assault.

"I'm not crazy," says Schroeder, who is married now, with two daughters. "I am actually relatively normal."

McClendon says she had a similar reaction.

"I remember thinking this is absurd; this is ridiculous. How could I be emotionally unstable? I'm very clear of mind, especially considering what had happened." McClendon says. "It was a ludicrous diagnosis."

A similar pattern

CNN has interviewed women in all branches of the armed forces, including the Coast Guard, who tell stories that follow a similar pattern -- a sexual assault, a command dismissive of the allegations and a psychiatric discharge.

Schroeder says a fellow Marine followed her to the bathroom in April 2002. She says he then punched her, ripped off her pants and raped her. When she reported what happened, a non-commissioned officer dismissed the allegation, saying, "'Don't come bitching to me because you had sex and changed your mind,'" Schroeder recalls.

Moore says she was alone in her barracks in October 2002 when a non-commissioned officer from another battery tried to rape her. When she filled out forms to report it, she says, her first sergeant, told her: "Forget about it. It never happened," and tore up the paperwork.

"It felt like a punch in the gut," Moore says. "I couldn't trust my chain of command to ever back me up."

McClendon says she was aboard a Navy destroyer at sea when a superior raped her on the midnight to 2 a.m. watch. After reporting the attack, she was diagnosed with a personality disorder and deemed unfit to serve.

"I was good enough to suit up and show up and serve, but I wasn't good enough after the fact," McClendon says.

Despite the Defense Department's "zero tolerance" policy, there were 3,191 military sexual assaults reported in 2011. Given that most sexual assaults are not reported, the Pentagon estimates the actual number was probably closer to 19,000.

"The number of sexual assaults in the military is unacceptable," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at a news conference in January. "Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day to keep America safe. We have a moral duty to keep them safe from those who would attack their dignity and their honor."
Read the whole article.

The military has issued a couple of reports that are freely available online:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words and support .... some are bashing

Schroeder - no joke

Anonymous said...

I just heard this on CNN and I'm so DISGUSTED at the military. These poor are raped and not believed and it's covered up and swept under the rug to protect the male soldiers and there reputation. This is FOUL at the highest degree

Anonymous said...

These stories just cover the women in the military not those of us that are in relationships with them and go through similar experineces. People also need to realize that a congressman that sits on the armed forces committee is helping them ignore rapes.

And this story's evidence is so solid that law enforcement where the victim lives has seen the evidence and is supporting her, along with local politicians. But they don't jurisdiction.

This story shows how the marine used a tactic to stop his girlfriend from going to the police intially. And how he had a criminal record and continued mental instability and the marines did nothing.