According to new data released by the Pentagon, sexual assault reports went up 50 percent between 2012 and 2013. But rather than signaling an increase in the number of sexual assaults, the growing number of reports likely suggests that service members are more confident in the system and more willing to come forward as a result.
"There is no indication that this increase in reporting constitutes an increase in crime," Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, the director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, told the Associated Press. "We assess that this unprecedented increase is consistent with a growing confidence in the response systems."
But male victims of sexual assault are still reluctant to come forward, according to the report. As the Associated Press notes, about 14 percent of the sexual assault reports filed last year involved male victims. Defense officials said that male service members are often reluctant to come forward because they are concerned that disclosing the crime will make others think they are "weak" or raise questions about their sexuality.
"There is still a misperception that this is a women's issue and women's crime," Nate Galbreath, the senior executive adviser for the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, told the Associated Press. "It's disheartening that we have such a differential between the genders and how they are choosing to report."
According to the data, there were 5,061 reports of sexual abuse filed in 2013 as compared to 3,374 in 2012. The number of prosecutions has also gone up. The report notes that the military was able to take "some action" against 73 percent of accused perpetrators. That number is up from 66 percent in 2012.