Month: July 2012

Is rape the new DADT? It sure is in the Coast Guard

repost from feministing.com

Melissa, United States Air Force

I am writing regarding an incident on the Open Guard USCG Facebook group page on July 26, 2012. A Coast Guard reserve member within the LGB community felt safe enough with Open Guard USCG to come out as a rape survivor. She expressed how she felt her rape was mishandled because of her sexual orientation. What followed was several other women both Active Duty and Veterans stated that they too been victims of sexual violence while serving in the US Coast Guard. The thread became an educational, supportive and healing medium for many within the group. Sadly it was all put to an end after Mark Dietrich, a Coast Guard officer and a moderator for Open Guard USCG, felt that suffering from rape because of one’s sexual orientation is “off topic”.

A Coast Guard member responded by saying, “Thank again for reminding me that I have no place in the Coast Guard even in the LGBT Open Guard” and a Coast Guard veteran also responded by saying, “I thought this group was to support each other as shipmates to improve the Coast Guard for future generations?” These two comments were determined to be criticizing the Coast Guard and negative so therefore every woman that reported that they been sexually abused because of her sexual orientation was barred from participating in Open Guard USCG. This is super concerning, particularly coming from a gay-oriented group that not too long ago had suffered the same oppression that rape survivors today are suffering: to keep it to your self.  The Military Rape Crisis Center a nationwide advocacy and support group for Military Sexual Assault survivors estimates that 92% of all that report a sex crime in the Coast Guard are kicked out of service. Rape has become the new DADT.

While we have rightfully earned our rights to celebrate our accomplishments for repealing DADT, the fight is not over. We have to continue working on getting equality until all service members feel safe to open up to who they truly are. Sadly, homophobia is still very present in the United States Coast Guard and these Coast Guard members are at times using sexual violence as their weapon of choice to promote their hateful agenda. While the United States Coast Guard is not required like the four other branches of service to release their sexual assault data, the Military Rape Crisis Center reports that a disproportion numbers of Coast Guard Active Duty and Reserve members are seeking services through them. Some of these survivors are members of the LGB community that feel that their sexual orientation were the reason they have been victimized or that the investigation focus was primarily on their sexual orientation and not the felony that took place.

I am a survivor of sexual assault while serving in the United States Armed Forces. My rapist, an O-6, knew that he was able to get away with raping me because I am a lesbian. He was right. He was never prosecuted despite enough forensic evidence that shows a rape has been committed. Corrective rape in his eyes was the right thing to do for his God. He saw nothing wrong with what he did. He is still serving. I lost my very promising career.

As a member of several Active Duty, Veterans and civilians group for the LGBTQIA community, Open Guard USCG is the only group that I am aware of that is not actively working to eliminate sexual violence within members of this community. While I do believe that Open Guard USCG or a similar organization might be viewed as helpful to connect LGB members service wide Open Guard USCG’s blatant backwardness, hypocrisy and systemic silent the victim rape culture is something that cannot be overlooked. I welcome an open dialogue on this important issue.

Until Open Guard USCG is open to diversity and is inclusive of all members of the United States Coast Guard, including those that been victims of sexual assault or rape, I recommend that members of the United States Coast Guard think twice before associating themselves with Open Guard and it board members. I also request the leadership within the United States Coast Guard stop the Coast Guard’s affiliation with the group, including listing them as a resource on uscg.mil diversity page, until Open Guard is open to discuss the sexual assault and rape epidemic in the United States Coast Guard and how it affects members of the LGB community.

Open Guard’s mission statements states: “Open Guard is a Coast Guard centric support group for gay, lesbian and bisexual Coast Guard members, active duty and retired, and their families and friends” and I believe that this should include those that feel that they have been retaliated by use of sexual violence for coming out.

Resources for military rape survivors:

Military Rape Crisis Center

RAINN

Protect our Defenders

Coast Guard Lieutenant call women in the Coast Guard “skanky” and feels that rape survivors do not deserve an investigation.

Donna Moore, United States Coast Guard family member

I work as a rape crisis counselor at a University with a large population of students that are also veterans. Currently a third of my caseload are veterans with military sexual trauma that are adjusting to life as students and as rape victims. My military background includes two brothers that joined the Coast Guard. My older brother is an alumnus of the Coast Guard Academy and currently a Coast Guard Lieutenant. My younger brother left the Coast Guard several years ago after 4 years as an enlisted personnel. He is now a police officer.

I printed out some of the Coast Guard stories on this page and showed them to my brothers. I was taken aback by how little they cared and even made excuses for the rapists.  My younger brother said that there are two sides to every story and that we were only getting one side. I disagree. I feel that rape is black and white. You either raped somebody or you didn’t. There isn’t that gray area where one might think it is rape and one might not.  My older brother told me that some women in the Coast Guard are skanky and put themselves in situations that are going to get them raped. He admitted that there had been numerous women under his command that were too skanky that he wouldn’t waste CGI money or resources to investigate their rape claims and that it is easier to approve their separation from service.  I was in shock when I heard all of this.  I have a third brother who is not part of the Coast Guard that felt sympathetic to the Coast Guard members posting their rape stories on here.

I like to think that our parents raised us to respect all people including women. I do not know where their attitudes against women that are raped come from. I am ashamed by what they said.

 I want to thank Panayiota Bertzikis for starting this blog. I think it speaks highly of her to put everything on the line to help her shipmates regain their voice. My brothers and all in the Coast Guard need to follow Panayiota’s leadership to eliminate rape in the Coast Guard. I have referred all of my veteran students to this blog and used some of the stories as learning tools for my colleagues that might not be familiar with military sexual trauma. It is never the victim’s fault for being raped.

Coast Guardsman raped, ignored.

Amanda, United States Coast Guard

March 15, 2012 I was awaken by a Coast Guard Ensign that had one hand over my mouth and one hand playing with my clitoris. I could not scream and I struggled to get away from him hitting my head on the top rack. After what seemed like forever he left but not before telling me that I should report it. I reported it anyway and went up my chain but not one person felt that I was acting like a victim enough to investigate it. I went outside of my chain and called CGI and a Chaplin on my own. Neither returned my phone calls. Now I am fighting an admin. discharge. What should I do?

Air Force sexual abuse trial gets underway

Last night on NBC Nightly News Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Air Force rape survivor and My Duty to Speak and Military Rape Crisis Center staff member Jennifer Norris discusses the rape and sexual abuse epidemic at Lackland Air Force Base. Watch the video here: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/48202756#48178483

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

What I lost

Airman First Class, United States Air Force

I lost more I was with friends. People I trusted.

Being a normal 21 year old girl. I made a mistake.

Drank too much. Lost control.

But it was alright, I was with people I trusted….

I passed out; my night should have been done.

Wake up. I can’t move, something or someone is on top of me.

I can’t move.

Can’t speak something is in my mouth.

I can’t move.

Unwanted kisses go down my body.

I can’t move.

Open my eyes; everything goes in and out of focus.

I can’t move.

It’s you! I trusted, confided! Why!

I can’t move.

My legs are spread for me.

I can’t move.

My body betrays my mind.

I can’t move.

No I don’t want this, I never wanted this.

Please let him stop.

Someone wake up!

Someone stop him!

I can’t move.

Everything goes black……

I can’t move

You may have lost control for a moment, but I lost more.

You may have lost trust in people, but I lost more.

You may lose a career, but I still lost more.

I lost trust in people, in humanity.

I lost my dignity not only at your hands, but to a nurse, a camera and some cotton swabs.

I lost sleep, because I see not only you in my dreams, but nameless and faceless people.

I lost so much.

You didn’t care.

You didn’t care who you hurt.

You didn’t care how this would affect me.

I am the one who has to pick up the broken pieces and try and glue them back together

I can’t move.

I can’t move forward, don’t want to move backward.

I am stuck. Because of you there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it, and how I lost more.