To gain important data about the prevalence of sexual assault in the American military, close to 560,000 military service members were asked to complete a questionnaire this year.
In a previous post, we discussed how the U.S. Armed Forces decided to abandon the traditional survey method used by the U.S. Department of Defense. Instead, they turned the task over to the RAND Corp., a global research center that promised to create a completely confidential, online survey to uncover the facts about sexual assault in the ranks.
Although participants in this year's RAND survey may be clothed in confidentiality, many are still voicing outrage at the survey's explicitly worded questions.
The Washington Post reports that some participants even felt re-victimized by the intrusive nature of the queries and the bluntness of the language.
Approximately 11 of the 34 questions on the survey include graphic descriptions of male and female anatomy as well as vivid depictions of various kinds of sexual contact.
So why is this year's survey so much more offensive than last year's? Was the explicit wording intentional?
The Department of Defense says, yes, the detailed nature of the survey was intentional. However, the negative effect on some survey participants was not. It claims that the increased level of detail was necessary in order to obtain more accurate data.
One of the project leaders, Andrew Morral, points out that without using precise terms to define the sexual acts, people have only ambiguous ideas of what the questions mean.
It is also worth noting that survey participants were given the option of skipping any questions that made them uncomfortable or declining to fill out the questionnaire at all.