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New Awareness Campaign Targets Military Families

Mar 28, 2006

“Take a Stand Against Domestic Violence” is the theme of a new campaign, launched jointly by the Defense Department and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, to increase awareness of abuse among service members and their families. The campaign’s goal is to connect service members and their families to a 24-hour-a-day hotline.

As part of the campaign, educational materials are being distributed at military installations and in public places in civilian communities. The campaign will also include public service announcements that will run in military media outlets. All materials from the new campaign are available free on the Hotline’s web site, at www.ndvh.org/military/index.html.

Just a few weeks after the campaign launched, new data showed that violence against women remains a serious problem in the military. The Pentagon announced on March 17 that reports of sexual assault rose by almost 40 percent from 2004 to 2005. New programs that encourage victims to report the crimes accounted for part of the increase, from 1,700 sexual assault reports in 2004 to 2,374 in 2005, officials said.

An investigation by the Washington Post in mid-March found that, in the vast majority of cases, those accused of sexual assault at the U.S. Naval Academy are expelled rather than tried. Just two of the 56 midshipmen accused of sexual assault since 1998 have been convicted, the newspaper found, with prosecutors making deals in the other cases that allowed those accused to leave the Academy without facing trial.

The Post analyzed 45 cases in depth. It found that, in three-quarters of the cases the victim knew her assailant, and in two-thirds of the cases alcohol was a factor. Six of the 45 cases were referred to court-martial but none ended up going to trial.

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