01/20/2015 03:52 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2015

Air Force Restricts Promotion of Reform of Sexual Assault Policy

Today, social media drives the world. In a survey done last summer by Pew Research Center, it was estimated that over 60 percent of Americans own smart phones. It is arguably the most effective and efficient way to spread your beliefs. Unfortunately, military personnel cannot share their beliefs on social media, despite how desperate or personal their cause may be.

On December 2, 2014, Capt. Maribel Jarzabek commented on a Facebook post by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand concerning the push for more reform about how sexual assault is handled in the military. In a long comment, Capt. Jarzabek identified herself as part of the Air Fore Special Victims Counsel and advocated for the new reforms. Shortly after, Jarzabek was reprimanded by the Air Force for wrongfully advocating for a "partisan political cause" and her punishment was "verbal counseling." In a statement to the Washington Post, she said, "I do believe they are trying to silence me and also send a message to other special-victim counsels who agree with me but are afraid to speak up."

As I describe in my book, Ending Domestic Violence Captivity: A Guide to Economic Freedom, similarly to how freedom of speech is restricted in totalitarian regimes, assault victims are often "discouraged and, in many cases, effectively prohibited from expressing themselves (123)." The actions of the military in the case of reprimanding Capt. Jarzabek are similar to that of an abusive situation. Cap. Jarazbeck has had her freedom to express herself limited and therefore is left feeling powerless.

How can the average American support the push for reform in the military if the military itself refuses to let a knowledgeable officer speak her mind about the system from personal experience? Capt. Jarzabek was simply speaking out to help improve the system and increase the support sexual assault victims in the military receive. By attempting to silence Capt. Jarzabek's thoughts, the military is refusing to acknowledge all the ways it has failed to provide proper advocacy for victims in the past. The military is contributing to the abuse victims suffer instead of stopping it.
Like my organization Second Chance aims to provide, victims need multiple support systems to recover from abuse and properly move on with their lives. As I explain in my book, "the overarching goal [Of Second Chance] is to empower and equip former victims to live in freedom for the rest of their lives (xxiii)."

By hindering the validation victims so desperately need, the military, is preventing abuse victims from ultimately recovering and leading independent lives.