YUMA, Ariz. - The Department of Defense has released information about the number of sexual assault reports made at installations around the world from 2013 through 2016, including those made at Naval Air Facility El Centro and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.
The report shows there were 21 total reports of sexual assault at MCAS Yuma for the fiscal year of 2016.
MCAS Yuma Victim’s advocate Sgt. Joanna Krol said she has watched the numbers fluctuate these past four years.
“I think it was more of an awareness issue or a confidence issue rather than somebody not wanting to report it in general," Krol said.
A different story at Naval Air Facility El Centro where their numbers have decreased. In 2014 there were two reports of sexual assault. Two years later they dropped down to zero.
“Reporting a sexual assault is our only pass way to holding offenders appropriately accountable,” said Kristopher Haugh Public Affairs Officer of Naval Air Facility El Centro.
DoD said it's important to note that the location of where a report was made does not necessarily mean the incident occurred at that location. This is because victims of sexual assault in the DoD may report a sexual assault at a time and place of their choosing.
DoD said it uses the term "sexual assault" to refer to a range of adult sex-related crimes, punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Since 2012, the department said the annual reports on sexual assault in the military have reported regular declines in the prevalence rates of sexual assault among the force.
But based on the numbers released on Friday, more people are coming forward than ever before.
Since 2005 the department of defense has encouraged more service members to come forward, regardless of when the assaults happened.
“The programs that are available, the posters that are on the walls, the booths that are set up at base events… definitely, bring to light that marines can speak up. There is an opportunity to go and seek the help that you need," said Sgt. Krol.