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Local expert weighs in on sexual assault, sexual harassment reports at Fort Hood

Local expert weighs in on sexual violence reports at Fort Hood
Posted at 10:35 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 23:35:49-05

An independent review involving hundreds of Fort Hood soldiers, the majority women, revealed 93 credible accounts of sexual assault over the past five years. Dozens went unreported, just like Vanessa Guillén’s story, according to her family.

“Why do you think she didn’t report it? Because of retaliation, and she was afraid of that," said Lupe Guillén, Vanessa's sister.

Suzanne Amour with Families in Crisis says it’s common for women and men to not report sexual assault, which often means there is a bigger problem.

“Sexual assault is one of the most unreported crimes there is. So if we hear there were 200 reports of assault in one year, we can assume that number is significantly higher,” she said.

Amour says many victims suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and can feel uncomfortable asking for help in the workplace.

“If it’s happened in the workplace situation, they may be afraid to report the situation because, of course, her job is tied to this,” she said. “They’re concerned maybe they won’t be believed. It could be that something they’ve seen happened to someone before.”

Amour says sexual assault leaves a devastating imprint.

“The impact of an assault can be so traumatic that a victim may launch into unhealthy behavior to cope with that, whether it’s self-harm are any other crisis response,” she said.

The Fort Hood investigation also revealed 217 unreported accounts of sexual harassment, which can make a huge impact on victims as well.

Fort Hood officials have made recent efforts to listen to the accounts and stories of several soldiers on post.

“The more that we talk about it, the more that we bring the issue to light, the more they will be encouraged to come forward,” said Amour.

Fort Hood officials say they plan to make changes like making a "compassion team” with a lawyer, chaplain and awareness expert to give troops at an outlet to speak up.