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

6 comments

  1. So sorry this is happening. At first when I saw the title of this post I was very angry. How date someone compare sexual assault to DADT battles. Then I read on. Yes, I am a survivor of multiple MST assaults. Yes, I am a lesbian. I am actively fighting for benefits for my legally we’d wife.

    I hate what is happening out there. Soon I hope to have a very public forum about which we can speak about these things. Email me directly if you are interested in being involved from the ground up.

    Wendi

  2. Thank you for posting this. I was raped 3 times in my 4 years of service. I too am a lesbian which is why I knew that I could not report my rapes. Even though we do not have DADT anymore homophobia is still very strong (aside from Sector and District) and coming out is close to impossible. I spent all 4 years at small boat stations (2 different ones) and gay jokes and rape jokes were the norm at both stations. How can you come out as a lesbian rape survivor when being raped or being gay is a joke to them?

  3. 92% of rape survivors that report rape are kicked out of the military. That sure sounds like DADT. Don’t report your rape if you want to keep your career.

  4. “Thank again for reminding me that I have no place in the Coast Guard even in the LGBT Open Guard”

    You do indeed belong. You are a service member that deserve the up most respect and honor. Thank you for your service to this country.

  5. Looks like they have updated their resources to include where to go if you been sexually assaulted however they also continue to block survivors on that page that came forward to say that they been raped. one other survivor was removed from that group just today. Looks like they are just adding the resources as a sort of lip service but if someone comes out as a rape survivor they are shunned out. Not sure what is worst.

  6. I was just blocked from this page for posting an anti-rape post.

    Rape IS a LGBT issue:

    Are LGBT people more likely than heterosexuals to be sexually assaulted by a stranger?
    Regrettably, the answer is yes. Due to the heightened homophobia in the United States, LGBT individuals are at a greater risk for sexual assaults by strangers. Perpetrators frequently use
    sexual assaults against LGBT individuals (and individuals perceived to be LGBT) to punish and humiliate them. This can be seen when an individual believes that they can “change” a woman’s sexual orientation by specifically targeting lesbian and bisexual women for sexual assaults.

    Issues regarding sexual assault that are unique to the LGBT community:
    • Survivors who are not “out” may find sharing and/or reporting the sexual assault difficult or impossible.
    • Due to the lack of awareness of same-sex sexual assault the LGBT community may make silence appear the only option.
    • If the survivor’s community is small, the fear of other’s skepticism and/or people “taking sides” may cause the survivor to keep silent.
    • Guilt and self-blame (which are common symptoms of all survivors) may lead to questioning ones sexual identity and sexuality.
    • One’s own internalized homophobia may further complicate the complexities of sexual assault.
    • Gay/bi male survivors may be apprehensive to report and fears being ignored and/or rejected as overly sensitive due to the stereotype that they are promiscuous and invited upon themselves.
    • Lesbian/bi women survivors may face being ignored or having their claims discarded if their attacker is a female because women are not socially seen as sexual perpetrators.

    http://www.morris.umn.edu/services/ViolencePrevention/Lgbt%20sexual%20assault%20pamphlet.pdf

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:w22VSj4Ca9wJ:www.thinkagaintraining.com/pdfs/Some%2520Statistics%2520on%2520Sexual%2520Assault%2520and%2520Rape.pdf+lgbt+most+likely+to+be+raped&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESiUgQBANHs2JVis1cQdn_RO-jp_kVvJdqCytFYVgYo6GSqeJ4LLSt1ayPqqJoYzIfj7xMOADg_6tthWs1rIcxwFcg6-dIqDR6XUHcqsvuMGtGSGG7hVcopIpfiE1PxGReU7W-Jy&sig=AHIEtbTy-9Zl01iIg3K9X4aVLoh7HcnfCQ

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