The number of sexual assaults reported in the military saw a double-digit surge over the last year — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that members are suffering more attacks, the Pentagon said, in its latest report.
By the numbers: Between January and September of this year, military investigators fielded 3,553 sexual-assault complaints. That number for the same period in 2012 stood at 2,434, the report said.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean sexual assaults have skyrocketed, the Pentagon was quick to point.
“We assess this as a sign of victim confidence in our response system,” spokeswoman Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson said, to USA Today.
Still, Defense Department views weren’t at conclusive on that interpretation. A slide attributed to the Defense Department and reported by UPI said the increase in reporting “may reflect a change in victim confidence in Department of Defense response systems.”
Congressional members weren’t so quick to accept the Pentagon explanation for the numbers’ hike, either.
New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said, UPI reported: “Without additional data on the total number of estimated assaults during this period, or the number of cases prosecuted by commanders, it is impossible to make any conclusions.”
All the service branches — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard — were represented in the numbers, UPI reported. And sexual assaults is a broadly defined term, encompassing everything from rape to unwanted touch.