Can social media lead to meaningful reductions in MST?

According to a recent report, between 9.3 and 33 percent of women report experiencing an attempted or completed rape during their military service. And reports of sexual assault in the military are on the rise. Between 2007 and 2013, these reports increased 88 percent. Indeed, the VA has estimated that one in five women who use its health-care program screen positive for military sexual trauma.

While this problem is pervasive in the military, it has thus far been difficult to bring the perpetrators to justice. According to one study, fewer than 15 percent of victims report the assault to a military authority. For those who do, the burden of proof makes it difficult to produce successful convictions.

In the civilian world, the victims of sexual assault are increasingly taking their cases to social media. Feeling abandon by the legal system, some are seeking justice in the court of public opinion. While this strategy raises the risk of being subject to a defamation lawsuit, given the broader trends in society it seems likely that the trend will only grow in the years to come. It also seems likely that this trend will soon find its way into the armed forces, where the practice may well force the hand of military leaders to take a more aggressive approach in addressing the problem of military sexual trauma.

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Dallas BlaneyComment