Anonymous, United States Coast Guard
A friend of mine who is still in the Coast Guard status update on Facebook was that she had a great time at the on-base holiday party. I choked up and brought me to immediate tears. I never thought about the holiday party–or lack of-from when I was in the Coast Guard. I am surprised by my own tears and surprised on how it affected me.
I was forbidden to attend the holiday party.
I was the rape victim. I was the one being med boarded out. I was the one who they loved to contradict themselves by saying that I am both a liar and was never raped-and a slut that deserved the rape.
Well what does rape have to do with attending a holiday party? Rape survivors were not allowed to attend. Makes no sense, right? Made no sense to me either so I spoke out.
And did I speak out.
I was the one that refused to take shit. I was the one who demanded that rape survivors be treated with respect, dignity and not like we are the enemy for reporting rape.
Rapists are the bad guys—rape survivors are not. They disagree. Most in the Coast Guard still do.
I was forbidden to attend the holiday party. It was said to be for my own safety. His friend (his meaning the rapist) were all going to be there. His friends said that they would love to rape me too. Hundreds of other should be there-everyone on base, and their spouses, and kids and well everyone were invited, everyone except the rape survivors. With so many women and kids on base you’ll think that they’ll ban rapists or men that threaten rape and not the rape victims? Makes no sense.
The party was held at the all hands club in Boston. I was on my way home but made a stop by the entrance of the party. I don’t remember why I passed by it and not sure if I had something to do in that area of the base of if I decided to pass by the party to see if they changed their minds and let me in. I remember the HS1, a man that was kind to me, was at the door. He asked me if I have my ticket. I said that I did not. Then Joseph Segalla, a Commander said “she not allowed in.” I knew about it already from my immediate supervisor, an YNC, so I was not at all surprised. The Commanding Officer, Captain Keene, circulated an email that included the name of all who were transferred to the base in Boston for reason of reporting a rape or sexual assault. In the email he gave clear instruction forbidding us to attend the party. The email was circulated to all the survivors immediate supervisors. I ended up with a copy of that email from a YNC who made the mistake of forwarding it to me. HS1 did not say anything. I left.
The next duty day everyone were talking about how much fun the party was. Some not knowing that rape survivors weren’t allowed at the party asked me why I did not attend. What was I supposed to say? Oh yes, well you see I was beaten, raped and now I can’t go to the Holiday party. Made no sense to me. Makes not sense to you. I knew that it certainly wouldn’t make any sense to them. Instead, I just shrug and said next year -and hoping and praying that my med board comes through saying that rape survivors are able to serve and that I can see another Holiday party on base even though I doubt I would have attended-voluntarily or not. However I didn’t stay to see another Holiday party. I am part of the 92% who reported a rape…and kissed her career goodbye.
The thing is if I was invited, I mean if I were allowed, I probably wouldn’t have gone. I am not a party person. I am not into drinking. I don’t want to see the friends of my rapists. I am that woman that rather go to the bookstore than the bar. Parties, me we don’t mix. They bore me. I am not anti-social; bring a group of people and we can talk about social justice or the latest book that we read I’ll be in the middle of the group and the light of the party/talk whatever you want to call it. Take me to a bar I’ll be checking my watch, I mean- cell phone, wondering if it is time to leave yet.
Why is hearing about Coast Guard holiday parties affecting me now? At that time I thought that I didn’t care as much. Since leaving the Coast Guard I did not think twice about it. I even read the email from Captain Keene ever so often when going through my files and is angrier that he violated our privacy by listing our names than the fact that we weren’t allowed at the party. I wish that I knew where these tears are coming from.
PTSD it gets you when you least expect it.
****For the record rape survivors were also not allowed to attend Coast Guard Day events (and they went to an amusement park, damm it) and All Hands meeting.