Military men are silent victims of sexual assault By Bill Sizemore
There is a widespread presumption that most victims of sexual assault in the military services are women. That presumption, however, is false.
In a 2006 survey of active-duty troops, 6.8 percent of women and 1.8 percent of men said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact in the previous 12 months. Since there are far more men than women in the services, that translates into roughly 22,000 men and 14,000 women.
For years after the parachute accident that ended his Army service, Cody Openshaw spiraled downward.
He entered college but couldn't keep up with his studies. He had trouble holding a job. He drank too much. He had trouble sleeping, and when he did sleep, he had nightmares. He got married and divorced in less than a year. He had flashbacks. He isolated himself from his friends and drank more.
"His anxiety level was out of this world," his father said. "This was a young man who got straight A's in high school, and now he couldn't function."
Openshaw had the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, even though he had never been in combat. His parents attributed the trauma to the accident and the heavy medications he was taking for the continuing pain.
But there was more.
Finally, he broke down and told his father.
A few months after his accident, as he was awaiting his medical discharge from the Army, he had been sexually assaulted.The attack left him physically injured and emotionally shattered. Inhibited by shame, embarrassment, sexual confusion and fear, it took him five years to come forward with the full story.What truly sets this story apart, however, is not the details of the case, horrific as they are, but the gender of the victim.