Department of Defense (DOD) policy is only effective when there is a true understanding of what is happening at the lowest levels, actively monitoring and training, and then ensuring that all leadership levels are held ACCOUNTABLE. Only then can problems behind the policy(ies) be effectively redressed. In 2022, the military now has the IRC recommendations which are an excellent start, but they won’t be implemented for another 8 years? This is the military’s definition of “zero tolerance”?
Instead of action, there is a huge public relations effort to publicize “DOD sexual misconduct prevention policies”; however, at the institutional level there is NO accountability. This reflects an ongoing pattern of NOT effectively dealing with the underlying cultural and leadership problems. This fundamental failure negatively impacts both our military’s warfighting capability and its Force Protection mission. This is a National crisis.
We, as founding members of Neveraloneadvocacy.org, deal with sexual misconduct worldwide. Our daily experience and view from the “trenches” working directly with victims/survivors is that the commands continue to fail to follow even the most fundamental related regulations and rules governing sexual misconduct. Victims reach out to us after they find that their military “leadership and judicial processes fail to provide justice or protection”.
When victims report sexual misconduct behavior to their chain of command, there is at each step of this
“due process” supposedly appropriate personnel, programs and leadership in place to protect, monitor, enforce and impartially investigate the complaint, while protecting the victim. The truth is that over 76% of all victims face direct career and personal retaliation from their leadership, peers and the military.
Victims are punished for following the reporting process, both by the predator and their military leadership! It has gotten so bad that predators are now initiating defamation suits against victims “for accessing and following the reporting process”. Victims’ initial cries for help are ignored either by telling the victim “to shut up, or suck it up”. The Command fails to initiate appropriate basic common sense protective actions such as separating the victim from the predator. To make victims even more vulnerable, the retaliation behavior is tolerated by the same command that is legally required to protect, defend and take care of its members. There is also little and very inconsistent judicial cover offered to the victims. The best process should be equally impartial to all parties to insure fair and just resolution.
But it gets worse. Many victims also struggle with the local civilian law enforcement officials who are not interested in pursuing the victim’s case when it is related to active duty military predators. In spite of personally reaching out to the victim’s leadership to notify them of a crisis, we then see the unit punish the victim for trauma based behavior in spite of regulations which forbid this exact, uneducated and inappropriate response.
We do not see chains of command being held accountable. There is NO transparency. Rather there is a diminishing trust of leadership. We are close to the day when a young officer or non-commissioned leader stands up on the battlefield and says “follow me”; their subordinates do not comply because they don’t trust that leader.