By Rodger Streitmatter—LGBT-Today Staff Columnist
Members of the U.S. military being sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers has erupted into a huge story, with hundreds of websites, newspapers and broadcast outlets reporting on the despicable behavior. One aspect of the phenomenon that's been dramatically underreported, however, is that the majority of the sexual assault victims have been men rather than women.
Specifically, the Pentagon’s latest report on the subject states that 53 percent of the attacks that occurred in 2012 were on male soldiers—almost all of them committed by other men. The report doesn’t specify what percentage of those victims were gay, although it speculates that many of them were. Further, the report estimates that many of the perpetrators were straight men. Experts on the topic say that sexual assaults on male soldiers generally are a form of violent hazing or bullying. “The acts seem less sexually motivated than humiliation or torture motivated,” Roger Canaff has been quoted as saying. Canaff is a former New York state prosecutor who helped train lawyers who prosecute sexual assault cases for the Pentagon. While news organizations have paid scant attention to the fact that men represent a majority of the soldiers who have been sexually assaulted by their fellow soldiers, a new documentary is trying to raise awareness of this reality. Justice Denied had its world premiere last month in Albuquerque. The film was produced and directed by Michael L. Miller. Among the victims who are featured in the film is a man named Amando. “I was raped while I was on active duty,” he says while looking into the camera. “I was raped by fellow Marines.” Amando goes on to say that a total of six men sodomized him. “It makes me feel worthless and sometimes suicidal,” he says. According to the documentary, by 2003, the Veterans Administration had received information about 31,797 cases of military sexual trauma against men and 29,418 against women.
Another man who is featured in Justice Denied is named Michael. “I was knocked unconscious from behind,” he says. “When I came to, I was being held down by two individuals and someone was pulling my pants down.” Michael goes on to say that he was raped repeatedly. “The whole time, I thought I was going to die,” he continues. “I resisted and stuff, but I couldn't stop it. I thought they were going to kill me.”
One of the experts who speaks in the feature-length film is Laurie Leitch, a psychotherapist who has counseled military sexual assault victims.
“It’s called sexual trauma, but it’s not about sex,” Leitch says. “It’s about power. It’s about aggression and violence.”
Billy is another of the men who speaks in the documentary. “I woke up and he was hitting me,” Billy says. “I was raped and beat again. He would either beat me before or after the rapes.”
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