Message from Panayiota Bertzikis

Greetings,

You are about to read true first person testimonies of sex abuse in the United States military. A lot of the survivors do go into details about their sexual assault, rape and the military response to the rape.  Reading these testimonies could potentially be triggering to survivors of Military Sexual Trauma or rape. Please take that into account before continue reading.

My Duty to Speak started as a writing workshop in Cambridge, MA for Military Sexual Trauma survivors that was hosted by the Military Rape Crisis Center in November 2010. The day workshop was taught by some of the greatest trauma and writing specialist in the country. By writing about what we went through while wearing the uniform we broke the silence of abuse liberating ourselves while also might be helping someone else who is feeling the same way.

We are thankful for so many survivors who came forward to share their Military Sexual Trauma testimonies with us. As you can read from the testimonies the military response to rape is often as disturbing and horrifying as the act of rape itself. Want to do something to help survivors? Take Action and call your representatives and demand better treatment for sexual assault survivors in the military. Head over to change.org and sign our brand new Petition to demand better treatment to survivors of rape in the Coast Guard. If you are interested in sharing your testimony go to Be Heard.

My staff and I are always available to you email me at panayiota@stopmilitaryrape.org . Together we are making a difference and improving the military response to sex abuse within it ranks. However, there is a lot more that needs to be done and we can not do this without you,  your support and your voice!

With gratitude,
Panayiota Bertzikis
Managing Editor
MyDutytoSpeak.com

We do not take liability for anything posted on here.

Drugged and Raped in Germany

Anonymous, United States Army

I joined the Army as a bright eyed and innocent 17 year old in 2004. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and my desire to become a Blackhawk Crewcheif controlled most of my choices during my ten year career in the Army.

Basic and AIT went pretty smoothly, I found most of the challenges exciting and quickly learned that my gift of easily adapting to pretty much any situation was a skill that enabled me to fit in with my all male job choice when I got to Germany. Not to say all of the men in my job wanted me there, many spoke openly about how women were not cut out for the job, but I had thick skin and good friends so I just drove on. I was lucky to not be betrayed by a friend and am thankful of that fact every day.

In May 2006 at the age of 19 a group of friends and I went to a bar that was frequented by solders, us included (in Germany at this time prosecution for underage drinking was unheard of, I could buy alcohol at the class six) I had a drink or two, but was to be one of the designated smart people that night so I kept my wits about me. I chatted it up with my would be assailant and his friends then went back to my group, nothing was weird, he didn’t pressure me, just talked about our MOSs and that’s about it. The next thing I can recall is being herded into a cab by him and his friend, the entire time all I could do was say over and over “I want to go home to …, I want to go home to…” but I could not move no matter how much I wanted to.

I was somewhat coherent throughout, with crazy colors swirling like the view from the tilt o whirl at a carnival. I don’t remember anything the two of them said. Considering I come from German farm girl stock and was far from dainty, it took the two of them to haul me up his barracks staircase. Again all I could do was slurringly say no, leave me alone. The friend left me with the guy in his room. I told the guy please no and that I was in fact on my period, he was undeterred. Having no control over my movements I was like his fucking puppet, he would put me into a position and I would just stay there all the while screaming in my head. He was rough causing bruising all over my body and he almost bit my nipples off.

The next day I woke up and he was gone, I pretty much what had happened, but was still a little foggy, there was blood on my thighs and my breasts and I was extremely sore. I was so angry but all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there, I snooped around the room looking for his name but after a few minutes the need to leave won out. I emerged from the barracks to find myself at a different kaserne about 20 minutes from where I lived. I knew a strauss was nearby and rode it to the train station. When I got there I spent hours there bewildered all I knew was that I was drugged and you cannot fly if drugs are found in your system, it doesn’t matter how they get there. I was set to start flying just two months later and had worked my ass off to get there. All I wanted to do was fly so I kept my mouth shut, in 2006 nothing good came of “crying rape”. So I dug out the tampon the guy had lodged into my body and eventually made it back home.

I told my few very close friends and they asked, what do you want to do? All I could say was “kill him”. I never saw him again, most likely because I don’t remember what he looked like. For the next couple years I drowned myself in booze, work and sex but rarely felt much and endured a painfully forced unhealthy relationship. Three years later a close friend turned into a lover who is now my husband of seven years. I told him the short version when we were dating and never spoke about it again for five years. I was managing, but after a relatively graphic tour in Afghanistan all hell broke loose.

By 2012 I was losing it, I was detached, having horrendous nightmares, panic attacks in groups. I would hold it all in till I was alone driving to work where I would cry my heart out, all I could do was think about this guy violating me over and over, than paste the professional Sgt face on and be dying inside. I went off the deep end the day we had to watch The Invisible War for EO training. I had to get up twice to hold it together, as always it sparked talk on the subject later at work. One of my soldiers jokingly said there is no way Sgt…(me) would let a man do that to me, that I would rip his balls off. If only. I just grabbed a good friend and hauled him to the smoke pit where I chain smoked his cigarettes. I could tell he knew something had happened to me as we just smoked in silence, the pity in his eyes angered me even more. I sought help that week, things got a bit better, sleep came easier over time.

I was medically discharged in 2014 for an injury incurred in AFG that I could never recover from. Now in college, many days are a struggle, telling some close friends lately has brought some peace, but I will probably never tell my family. To this day I continue to have vivid dreams of being raped by faceless men ending in me killing them in any fashion I can. It is disturbing and exhausting. This is my story, I selfishly choose my career over the need to protect other women, and the need to find justice, but seeing how other victims have been treated all of these years what other choice did he Army leave me with? I will be haunted by my decision for the rest of my life whether it was right or not.

Three years and finally taking action

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

I joined in Aug 2011 and went to my first unit in Oct 2011. This was the first time I left my family back at home and I was on my own. I was living in a place by myself. I was young, 20 yrs old at the time. I made “friends” at my unit, things were going good for the first month or so.

This one “friend” wanted more. I was stupid and I did give him more, but not the way he wanted it. He went on and showed me the town, went back to my place, never had sex luckly, but he did push for it. We did kiss and he did touch, but I thought better of it and said time to go. I wanted him out of my house out of my door and to be left alone. He forced himself back in my house pushed me against my wall unable to fight back and push him off. I kept saying no time to go, I tired, leave. He didn’t. I knew he wanted more, but I wasn’t having it.

The next night he was texting me that he was coming over, he wanted to see me. I said no I don’t want that. Said he could break into my house that it was easy to do so. I slept with a knife and all my lights on because I was alone and scared. I never reported that, due to what was seen, we got into trouble for that. I was to scared to bring up what happened at the time, due to I was already in trouble. My mouth should of opened for that.

Few months past things were quite, then he sends me vulgar text telling me to sit on him, that I liked it, I wanted it. Stop it, leave me alone, i kept saying it over and over again. Calling my parents crying telling them what was said. Number was blocked been blocked since then. Told command, command just looked at me and gave me the choice to choose page 7, or bring it up to mast like. I thought a few days and being nice page 7, then thought after a while that I wanted it higher. Well command didn’t want that. It was left at that. 3 years later and the same guy still at the station, finally it has been brought to light what he did and he finally paying for it. Talking to CGIS and hoping for an end to this soon.

Raped and still paying for it

I joined at a young age but was sure the Coast Guard was where I wanted to be. They shipped me across the country away from family to remote area with no support. I began to receive sexual harassment from my co workers at my unit. After filing a harassment complaint about rumors spreading about my sexual life I was retaliated against and was sent to another unit where my issues followed. I was continually harassed.

I was raped in 2012 by a civilian but was terrified to tell anyone. I did not want to get in trouble for drinking. My performance dropped as I tried to push my depression and nightmares down. I began to drink very heavily and did not care about my career. I saw my assailant at bars around town. I finally broke down and told a supervisor what happened a year later. I thought he understood and actually cared. It turned out to be a lie.

During my CGIS investigation I was told I was lying and that I was in the wrong because I could not remember specific details. I was told by my command thaI was in no danger and I had to stay in the area even though my rapist had broken into my house and robbed me afterwards. I was not able to sleep thinking he was waiting for me. Finally they moved me and things seemed to get better.

The treatment began to work but I was placed in a area where a lot of accused offenders came to await processing. I had to stay in the same barracks where they stayed during duty and they even placed a person who was convicted of sexual assault to work in the barracks where he had access to make keys to every room. I transferred again and continued to receive harassment from higher ups and was eventually kicked out and was forced to sit in a room with my harassers after having suicidal ideations.

I am lost because I am still in and don’t know what to do now. I am tired of having this over my head and never moving forward. I continually talk down to myself and make myself feel as if i am not good enough to be in the coast guard. How can these people who are just horrible continue to stay in and advance and victims who genuinely could do good for the Coast Guard are pushed out?

Years of abuse

Chad, United States Army

Shortly after switching from Reserve to Active Duty, I was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. My unit was sent to the field within days of my arrival. My first night in the field with my unit I was brutally hazed by a group of my peers.

As the assault ended and everyone disappeared into the woods, I stood up and started gathering my uniform and gear that had been stripped from my body. I suddenly felt myself being thrown to the ground again. My attacker mounted me and started acting like he was anally raping me. He then removed my undershorts and penetrated me with a small stick, causing permanent deformity to my body.

He kept repeating “You like that, don’t you faggot. Yeah, that’s right. I know what you are.” I was terrified. I knew that if I reported it I would face the risk of discharge because of my sexuality. I kept quiet.

My physical wound was painful, but I never sought treatment for fear of having to disclose what happened. My attacker was eventually assigned to be my team leader, then squad leader. He psychologically abused and bullied me for my remaining time at Fort Bragg. I lived in constant fear of being exposed. I still have frequent flashbacks and require a PTSD Service Dog.

Don’t be silent like I was. It will ruin your life. Get help, do not be ashamed, and know that it is NEVER your fault.

Male recruit raped at Basic Training

I am one of the lucky ones. I left for Basic Training to Lackland AFB in November a couple years back. I was older, 23 when I went, so already I felt I had the leg up. I still try to put it behind me, act like it didn’t happen, so I can move on. No one Knows. I had the fortunate pleasure of having three training instructors. One day when I went into the dorm with just my wing man and I, while everyone else was in the chow hall, one of them was in there. Already nervous, he started yelling of course. Made my wing man stand in the first bay, While I was in the bathroom. You all know how long the bays are. My wing man was of course at the far end, so he couldn’t hear me cry, at least that I know of. The T.I. came in, I was at the sink, filling my canteen. He smiled. Asked If I was ok. Yes sir. He put his hand on my neck. rubbed it. what are you doing? It’s ok. There he goes hand down my pants. get off me. he yanked them down. crying already. water everywhere. something slimy. he prepared he brought lubrication. it was with him. it hurt badly. this is what you signed up for trainee sa*****.it was quick thank god. god can be merciful I guess. He left. I sat there washed up and left in a daze. M wing man saw nothing, and heard nothing I guess. I got lucky. real lucky. Went to the hospital the next day with a few excuses of not feeling well. Discharged out of B.A.S right there. I was stuck in med hold for a couple weeks, but I never had to see him again. Who’s going to believe that a male T.I. raped a male anyway. I have never told anyone until now. YOU. this website. I feel a little bit of weight has been lifted off. thank you.

Raped at Coast Guard Station South Portland, Maine

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I joined the U.S. Coast Guard October 31, 1983. After graduating boot camp I was assigned to a small boat station in South Portland, Maine. It was there that I was brutally raped and told that if I told anyone that my face would be cut up with a knife.

The rape was reported and investigated. There was evidence. I was transferred to another duty station. Word spread and I experienced harassment about proceeding forward with the case. The rapist was a Second Class Boatswains Mate (E-5). He was later discharged from the service.

I requested counseling and the counselor was a woman who blamed me for the rape. I will never forget her saying; “If women would just say yes there would be no rape.” I ended up holding all emotions in and continued on with my service.

As time continued on, I experienced headaches, body pains, and panic attacks. In 1991 I sought treatment from the rape crisis center in Miami, FL. I was having difficulty with flashbacks and panic attacks. It was there that I was told that I had Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) delayed-onset. I received care through a civilian therapist.

I had to fight for my medical care and went through 2 medical boards and won both. I transferred to New York in October of 1993. The Coast Guard made healing and recovery difficult.

I went to a National Organization for Women meeting in NYC and listened to a speaker discuss (PTSD). I later went to her for therapy. In 1995 I had an increase in symptoms and realized that if I were to heal, I needed to move on and leave the service. I received a disability retirement in January of 1996. I tried to serve 20 years, but my physical body was worn from the trauma inflicted upon me.

After reporting the first rape and experiencing the after effects of reporting, I decided that I would never report a rape again.

The bystanders

A few years ago I was serving on a cutter in the Coast Guard (I’m at a different unit now). We were at a week-long port call and were moored up at a pier. I was on the mess deck eating lunch with a female coworker on a Monday and she told me a story.

She said that she was out at a bar with a bunch of other people from the ship and they all got pretty drunk. After coming back to the ship one of the guys pushed her up against a wall and sexually assaulted her. She couldn’t push him away and had to wait for someone else to walk by and pull him off of her. Another guy walked by and saw it happening, but didn’t do anything because the two of them were friends.

Now, we’re friends. I think of her as like a little sister. I was not happy when I heard this. I knew that I wasn’t thinking clearly because I was so angry, so I didn’t do anything and waited until later to talk to someone else. I got her to tell the story to another female that we work with and I said that my feeling is that we should tell our supervisor and get these two guys in trouble.

The female that it happened to said that she doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and to just let it go. The other female said that we should just do whatever the other wants to do with it. Their main thought was that we’re in a job that no one on the ship likes, and the other two were thought of as everyone’s friends.

They were afraid that she would get in trouble and everyone would take the guys’ side. As much as I hated to let it go….they were probably right. We never did anything about it. It still haunts me to this day. I hate seeing bad people go unpunished.