ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ) — Reports of sexual assaults in the military are on the rise. The Pentagon says that coming forward is actually a positive sign.

Tracey Leong reports as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County is joining the effort to stop them from happening.

Aberdeen Proving Ground is one of 12 bases to open up a center to fight sexual harassment and sexual assault because they say it’s an inside threat that needs to be stopped.

A zero tolerance policy for sexual violence in the U.S. military–widespread efforts to protect the men and women who fight for our nation.

According to the Pentagon, most victims are young lower ranking women and the assaulter is typically higher ranking in the same unit.

“It comes from within our ranks, and so it is our number one priority right now to rid ourselves,” said Major General Bruce Crawford, senior commander.

Armed forces uniting to put a stop to the sexual violence holding soldiers at all levels accountable.

“Establish a certain trust among the soldiers that it’s OK to come forward and report these criminal acts,” said Major Gen. Crawford.

Major Gen. Crawford addressed the abuse at their annual conference, saying this trust is being reflected in the sexual violence numbers. Some 6,100 cases were reported in 2014–a 50 percent jump from 2012.

“This is one of the most encouraging signs so far is that we are seeing an increase in reporting as the incidents are actually going down,” said Michell Shoultz, victim advocate.

Shoultz works at the Aberdeen Proving Ground resource center. She says soldiers are feeling more comfortable to come forward–momentum they hope to keep in this fight to end sexual abuse.

The resource center is available to civilians and soldiers 24 hours a day.

For more information on the resource centers and help lines, call 800-656-HOPE or click here.


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