Examining Male Rape in the Military
By Noah Evslin, Director of Medical Research
If you watch our show closely, you'll realize it's not the medical treatments that make Private Practice different than other shows on television; rather, it's the ethical debates surrounding the myriad decisions our doctors need to make every week.
The thirteenth episode of the season, "Losing Battles," was a very emotional episode to research, because of the nature of the subject matter: male soldiers who are raped at war by their male superior officers.
What started our examination was a Newsweek article titled, The Military's Secret Shame, which states that in 2010, nearly 50,000 veterans tested positive for "military sexual trauma," up from 30,000 in 2003. Europe's The Daily Mail posted the same disturbing information in a similar article.
In any instance, rape is horrible. But the horror that these soldiers go through spending their days fighting a real war against real enemies, then spending their nights fighting off not their enemies, but the very people in charge of their protection, goes beyond anything I could possibly imagine. Where do these soldiers turn? How do they possibly cope with such trauma?
In our story, Sheldon's treating RICK ANDREWS, an Army solider recently returned from Afghanistan, who's battling insomnia, depression and sexual dysfunction, amongst other things. At first, Rick is loath to discuss what happened in The Middle East, but after some prodding, Rick discloses his superior officer raped him after an unsuccessful raid in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan.
For once, Sheldon is at a loss how to treat Rick and so he brings Violet in for a consult. This brings up this week's ethical debate:
In regards to treatment, is there a difference between male and female rape victims?
Violet feels that rape is rape and that their work as a therapist remains the same â€“ teaching their patient to deal with intrusive thoughts, avoid self destructive behaviors and attempt to re-establish trust and intimacy. Sheldon disagrees. He feels that in this case, his patient's shame is heightened because he wasn't able to fight back, even though he was trained to be a warrior, and that the people around him (those in the military) are going to feel the same way.
Ultimately, Sheldon decides that getting Rick to open up is the correct path of treatment and so he convinces him to first tell his wife. Unfortunately, Kelly responds badly to the disclosure, and walks out on him (she comes back later).
Do you think Sheldon did the right thing in getting Rick to open up? Should all victims of rape be treated the same by their therapists?