Air Force Rape Survivor

AirForceLadyVeteran, United States Air Force

This is my story, I became emancipated 3 months after my 17th birthday I passed the GED and entered The Air Force on May 28,1979. At the time, there was a big push to put women in male dominated jobs. This set the stage quite well for the events that occurred. Against my will, I was forced deal with rape, sexual harrassment, threats of harm, being drugged against my will. These numerous intense stressors left me reeling with a lifetime of continuous negative feelings about myself; including fear, rage, confusion and humiliation. As a result, it has since been a history of struggle with physical & mental health. In the years following my service, I was never the same. I was a failure at everything. I was very detached from loved ones, I was a terrible mother, daughter, and sister.

My image suffered. I became morbidly obese, for safety in girth. My obesity resulted in multiple surgeries. I developed poor health, and declining ability to maintain healthy relationships. For survival sake, I’m often anxious, numb, irritable, and depressed requiring medication. I have an eating disorder, I‘m not able to maintain employment. When I entered the service, I don’t recall that there was ever anyone to tell, or places to go to turn for positive female peer support. I wasn’t given any tools or resources to access if I had any issues. Most importantly, one thing for sure…

Never bring any attention on yourself. It was clear… no one wanted to hear about problems. I was told to be a good little girl, and shut up if I know what’s good for me. Just stay out of trouble. But it seemed like trouble always found me. It led to the obvious self-numbing destructive devices and desperation to cope.

Upon acceptance and induction in to the US Air Force 28May1979, I was evaluated both mentally and physically and found to be “Suitable for Military Service” Then, 16 months later I was discharged following a short “Psychiatric Evaluation” that resulted with an Honorable 39-10 Discharge, and a diagnosis of apathy, defective attitude, and unable to adapt to military life. I believe this showed quite a big shift in my mental health in a fairly short time.

In 1979, I don’t believe PTSD was even a diagnosis yet. My delicate questionable mental health status was clearly confused as simply “bad behavior” yet I was trying to scream out for help ineffectively. By today’s standards in Psychiatric Care, the signs of sexual abuse, MST, and PTSD were all there, but misunderstood and misdiagnosed by the evaluator.

Within six months of my discharge I had to seek the care of a Psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with depression, insomnia, and was treated with medication. I was not aware of any available support for me in the VA System. Ever since, in one way or another I have suffered and endured a lifetime of issues including drug addiction, and treatment that span over 30 years. As a result, I never told anyone that I was a Veteran. I avoided it. I did not want to talk about it or explain why I got out early. As far as the military is concerned, I was just damaged goods with a defective attitude, and unable to adapt to life period.

In September 2007, I was hired by the VA Medical Center. As soon as I began working for the VA, I started having nightmares, night terrors, and flashbacks of my entire military career. I was flooded with emotions, memories and more questions. It all steamrolled out of control and turned into a mental health crisis.

From the very first day when I raised my right hand and recited my oath to serve my country, it was obvious I was less than 1% of females in military service. I was young attractive petite, and had an outgoing personality. It was a recipe for disaster.

For me, it all started in basic training. July 4th 1979-Basic Training (Lackland AFB, TX) I was tricked into a male dorm occupied by security police trainees, kept for a time against my will for the purpose of sex by Airman XXX. I was terrorized with fear of what would happen to me if anyone ever found out. Airman XXX was training as a Security Police Officer which made things worse because he used his status to convince me that if I ever told that I would never be believed and he could make certain it would haunt me forever. Besides, I had no one to tell.

August 1979- While in Technical Training School at Chanute AFB, I was asleep in my bed my roommate Airman XXX, was not present. I was awaken by a female Airman. She entered my room through a shared bathroom. She climbed in bed with me and tried to molest me in my room in my bed. Her hands were all over my body trying to remove my clothes. I paralyzed with fear. I was so shocked. I told my roommate but no one else. I learned that I was not even safe amongst women. Also at Chanute AFB, IL, I sexually assaulted by Sr. Airman XXX. He was in charge of a cleanup detail. Our whole squadron was moving out of one dormitory to another building. Part of that was checking beds/linens/mattresses, etc., and he forced himself on top of me. He tried to get my pants off and tried to rape me. I managed to get free, but not before he had an erection pressing hard against my body. I told no one.

That was the way it was for me. I was made to believe at some point that providing pleasure for my peers was my real duty in the Air Force… Moral support for our male troops Just before I left Chanute, I was ill and quartered in the base hospital. It was all coed. I made friends with a male nurse. One night, I awoke to him at my bedside. He had placed his hand under my covers; and molested me. Very creepy! It was surreal and again I was paralyzed, and shocked with disbelief. I thought I was dreaming when I realized what a violation had just happened to me again; like always… I just shut it out for a very long time. As if I hadn’t already had so many confusing and difficult experiences in such a short time.

When I finally left Chanute, in November 1979. It was my first chance to return home to my family. I couldn’t run to home for safety, fast enough. When I arrived at Travis AFB my first duty station, I should have had a clue what I was in for there. On my first day there I was given the name Jail Bait… SSgt. XXX, Jet Engine Mechanic @ Travis AFB, CA 1980. I met at a party 12/31/1979. He was quite charming and persuaded me to celebrate the New Year with a drink I and became too intoxicated( I was not used to alcohol). As it got late, my ride had left, and he offered a ride back to base and took off with me to San Francisco on a drunken ride from hell, it turned into date rape. I felt guilt and shame, as though I brought it on, he worked hard at “being sorry” I allowed him to woo me I was in deep denial and had become used to the abuse…

I became pregnant which resulted in harassment and threats of harm from his so called fiancé. I was told if I kept the baby I would be sorry, and he would never stick around and leave all on my alone to raise this baby. I was never aware he had a fiancé until this situation arose. Threatening notes began to appear on my car, all 4 tires on my car were flattened with a knife in my dormitory parking lot. She would show-up places off base as if I was being followed. I was unknowingly given LSD at a party. It was a horrible scary ordeal. I could not take a risk that the fetus was damaged as a result I had to get an abortion, that I anguished over. I suffered a depression as a result of the forced abortion.

During my inpatient stay in XXX, January 8, 2010. I was brutally raped and assaulted by an OEF/OIF Navy Veteran. I agreed to give him a ride to a 12-step meeting we were required to attend. I was drugged with quetiepine, then raped in my car@ a secluded park. I reported it. He was charged and indicted by the Grand Jury. He was arrested and stayed in jail for 3 months until the case was dropped by the D.A. 3 months later citing she didn’t think she could win, but I know it was political bias since we were dealing with the VA.

4 comments

  1. You did an excellent job describing your emotions. I could relate with you on so many levels. The self loathing that manifests itself as a result of the abuse is a very powerful thing. I really appreciate how you shared the most intimate details about what you were going through. Its amazing how rape, assault, and harassment are so prevalent in one person’s career. The worst part is that is all happens so frequently. The frequency of the abuse is what beats us down so bad. Its what compounds on top of the original PTSD. Its what drives us to the self loathing. We have become used to feeling worthless so if no one is around to abuse us, we abuse ourselves. Thank you for sharing the survivor piece. It really hit home. You are not alone with this.

  2. My dear sister….How could so many do such terrible abuses against you. You are a wonderful person and yes, i related to the safety of obesity and beyond poor self esteem. Good job my sister in telling you’re story…

  3. I am so proud of you for sharing your story and life with us. I do know how hard that was for you. I was Air Force in the 80s and went through alot of the same thing’s you did. I share the same feeling’s you have and it’s a very tough life. Even all these yr’s later with the PTSD, nightmare’s,night terror’s, etc…I do want you to know your not alone!! Just remember that when you need to share, talk, vent,etc…you know how to contact me and please do. We are all sister’s here…

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