The estimated number of sexual assaults on both men and women in the military has declined over the last decade, according to a new Pentagon survey reported by the Washington Post. The Pentagon conducted a survey last year to estimate the scope of the problem because many service members choose not to report assaults. It found that about 14,900 sexual assaults of some kind occurred in 2016, compared to about 34,000 in 2006. The Pentagon arrived at its findings both by compiling sexual assault reports and carrying out a survey in which more than 150,000 service members responded.
At the same time, the number of assaults reported through law enforcement or military channels inched up to an all-time high last year, to 6,172 reports, up from 6,083 in 2015, the report said. The figures, which include everything from groping to rape, are believed to represent progress because the Pentagon says victims are much more willing to report assaults than they were a decade ago. Navy Rear Adm. Ann Burkhardt, director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said, “Everyone must understand that getting help is a sign of strength.” She added, “We’re not confusing progress with success.”