Each day, the Pentagon says, 38 men in the military suffer sexual assault, but it's not often talked about. In an extensive piece on the topic, GQ speaks to victims, gathering stories many felt they couldn't tell. "When a gunnery sergeant tells you to take off your clothes, you better take off your clothes. You don't ask questions," says one victim. Simply the act of enlisting in the military increases a man's odds of being sexually assaulted by 10 times, GQ reports, and before the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, assault victims could be kicked out of the military for homosexual conduct.
Speaking up often doesn't feel like an option, victims say: About 81% of male victims in the military don't report the attack. Some report having their lives threatened, and many feel that they're somehow responsible for the violence, GQ reports. And "there's the fear that "if other people know this about me, well, then, my life is over," says a VA psychologist. Indeed, one victim says a doctor told him, "Son, men don't get raped." When cases are heard, just 7% result in convictions. And anyway, "Who was I going to report it to? He had serious rank over me," says a victim who tested positive for HIV after his attack. In other powerful victims' quotes:
- "I'm gay and I'm terrified of men."
- "My first sexual experience ever was being raped by these guys. It screwed me up: That's what sex is supposed to be—anonymous, painful."
- As for therapy, "We're asking them to talk about the one thing they'll do anything to keep other people from knowing about them," the psychologist says. Further, "In a hypermasculine culture, what's the worst thing you can do to another man? Force him into what the culture perceives as a feminine role. Completely dominate and rape him."
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