TSgt raped at Sather Air Base Iraq

Mary Gallager,  United States Air Force

I was at Sather AB, Iraq in November 2009, this was my 3 tour to the region. I was having trouble with a co-worker and one night I went into to the bathroom as I came out of the stall he was standing there and threw me up against the wall and raped me and then told me “that is how you fuck a whore”. He left me there and when I finally left I went to my Commander who told that it is a “he said she said”. 12yrs of service went down the drain that night. From that point on the Air Force saw me damaged goods and they told me I had PTSD and medically discharged me just a year before I was a raising star doing what I love and now I spend my days at the VA, taking pills, and trying to find a reason to live!

Recently separated Coast Guard veteran demanding changes in how the Coast Guard handles rape cases.

I was separated from the Coast Guard because I reported a rape.

I am not ready to share my story.  I do want to share these four concerns that I feel should be addressed by the Congress.

1. I was forced to pay out of pocket to attend my own Article 32 hearing. I was eventually reimbursed but I was given a hard time when I requested to be reimbursed and had to tell 3 people why I was traveling.  One questioned me on why the Coast Guard should pay for a personal matter.  Apparently you have to be rich to bring forward any charges against a rapist in the Coast Guard. Unless you are sitting on a pile of cash forget about having your parents or anyone there to support you.

2.  The retaliation was worst than the rape.  Almost everyone from an E-2 to an O-7 called me a liar.

3. After reporting my rape I was the one transferred not my rapist. You’ll think that the Coast Guard would have some common sense and not transfer a rape victim away from her friends and a unit she is familiar with. In addition to being the odd new girl that left early for counseling I felt even more isolated because I was at a new unit and in a new city.

4. The Coast Guard does not allow non-Coast Guard victim advocates to serve as victim advocates. I requested Panayiota as my victim advocate and the Coast Guard denied it. Instead they gave me 3 different victim advocates within a year. By the time I felt comfortable with one they gave me a new one.  The irony of it all is that at times they did not know the answers to my questions and they’ll ask me to ask Panayiota and then requested to know what Panayiota has said so that they can know for future victims. Even though Panayiota was not allowed on base with me and at the hearing she was the only one that was stable in my life and the first person I emailed or called after getting any updates about my case.  All of the victim advocates were very nice people but I felt that they were not trained enough. Every other branch of the military allows non-military members to assist rape victims why doesn’t the Coast Guard?

Mother speaks out about her rape as one of the first female Naval Aircrew Members

Ellen, United States Navy

My teenage son plans to apply for West Point, and it is my dream to help leave a legacy for him, including a fair and safe military. As he and I have discussed his goals, I’ve come to realize that I should tell my story to prevent what happened to me in 1989, during my enlistment as one of the Navy’s first female aircrew member, to prevent this from happening to future generations.

I have reached out to MST Survivors through social media, joined forces to help our newest survivors, and rallied around the movement which supports measures like the Military Justice Improvement Act. The MJIA takes the reporting, investigation, adjudication and victim care for cases out of the local unit chain of command. In my case, no one could have helped me, while I remained under the command and control of the aircrew culture which collectively had no regard for my presence among them. It’s unconscionable to me that the same climate exists today, as when I didn’t report my rapes, believing that my rapes were planned as retaliation for invading the “all boys club.” Just like me more than 20 years ago, I’ve learned 90 percent of victims are still afraid to report.

My rape occurred after I was selected to be the first enlisted female to attend Air Crew School. It was 1988, when I was raped, and I had just finished technical training as a Cryptologist, when I was 19. I believe I was selected for aircrew training because I was expected to fail, being that I wasn’t the best student in my tech school. I was very young, and thought surely a senior female Cryptologist already in the fleet would be better qualified. But, I accepted the challenge, and enjoyed the aircrew, and survival, schools, required to fly as a Cryptologist. The first evidence of the discord I was walking into happened after training.

I was assigned to a Naval Air Squadron, in Spain. On the first night at my new squadron, a group of senior co-workers took me to a Sangria bar in town. That evening, my co-workers disappeared leaving me stranded in a bar, in a new country. Unaware of the stigma of placing a female among the crew, I couldn’t understand why I was left behind? Trying to find my way back to the barracks, I felt very confused and frightened.

My first deployment from Spain, was to Athens Greece. As the only female of a 25 man crew, it quickly became clear that I had invaded a very tight fraternity, and my presence was resented. During the first night there, I was told that every time a newbie deploys they go out for “six shots of tequila.” I decided to go through with the initiation; my plan was to return to my room to sleep off the alcohol. It wasn’t uncommon for underage service members to drink while deployed during those days. But the next day, I learned I’d suffered a very different fate than a simple drinking-game initiation into the aircrew.

A female officer who had a room next to mine pulled me aside to tell me she heard men coming back from the bars, and knocking on my hotel door, throughout the night. Each time she opened her door they went away. I was horrified. The female officer made a report to our command, and an executive order immediately came down that our squadron prohibited all initiation drinking games, now that women were flying. From then on, I was totally isolated. Rumors were spreading that I had slept with more than one of the men on the aircrew. When their wives were present, I was avoided, and not included in social circles. My fellow air crew members avoided talking to me, and if they did, it was impersonal. I never felt so alone, like a stranger in a strange land.

Eventually, I was sent on another deployment to Greece. I felt I could manage my interactions with people to ensure what happened on my first deployment, didn’t happen again. So one evening, when I was asked by a quiet, married crew member to join him for a drink, I felt it was a safe, low-risk opportunity to socialize. The last thing I remember is having one drink with this man. I am confident I was drugged. The following morning I woke up black, blue and purple from head to toe. I had severe bruising and swelling between my legs. My vagina was raw. I was covered with vomit and bodily fluids. The man I had had one drink with was still there. But the bruising and the mess that was made in the night told me, there had been more than one visitor to my room. I soaked in a bath to rid myself of the disgustingness that was done to my body. I put on a turtle neck under my flight-suit to hide my bruised neck, and went to work broken.

We flew a very long mission that day, and no one made eye contact with me. I was convinced that all the male officers and enlisted, who wanted to get to me after the tequila initiation, finally got their chance to rape me. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, I will never know because I was too afraid to tell, and the situation was never investigated. I’m haunted by the possibility of what might have happened to me, unprotected, alone and betrayed. And I’m haunted by what did happen. Betrayal by someone I thought could be a safe place during a deployment, someone I could just talk to about our work, and the next day’s mission. I knew telling would cause me to lose my job; I was so young and afraid of these older, married aircrew members and their wives. Without proof, I’d most likely be charged with underage drinking, and feared even worse repercussions than social isolation that happened due to false rumors.

Once we returned to Spain from deployment, I was harassed by wives and girlfriends. They all suspected that I was having an affair with all of their spouses! I couldn’t reconcile how one man drugging and raping me, equated to the escalation of social stigmatization. I was dating a service member who had returned back to the states. Rumors reached him and he broke up with me. I never tried to explain my story to him, due to shame. As a result, my performance didn’t meet standards, and I was removed from air crew. I was placed in jobs where I didn’t have much contact with people. Thankfully, a female Master Chief took me under her wing. She was Christian so I started attending church at missionary houses, and was eventually baptized. I also met a very nice group of runners and tri-athletes whom I bonded with, and spent most time, off training, practicing to meet physical training standards, and races.

I believe God saved me from hurting myself, during the aftermath, by sending me compassionate people to help me. I separated from active duty in 1992, when I was 21; returned home and immediately joined the reserves and started college, repressing all of the sexual harassment, the personal attacks, and the rapist. My time in the reserves was very positive. Without stress, I was able to flourish, learn, and earn the respect of my co-workers. I was even selected to serve at a Joint Task Force several times to work in anti-narcotics. In 1994, I married, and in 1997 we had our first child. So, I decided to leave the reserves. Over the years I have not been able to forget my attack. I’ve had random bouts of anger when I’ve realize what I was cheated out of back in Spain. My innocence taken, my body defiled my reputation in ruins. I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and detachment from post traumatic stress disorder. I can’t fly in an aircraft without being heavily medicated, or I have severe unmanageable panic attacks. When I see aircraft flying above me I’m triggered. I do have shame for not reporting my attack, shame from taking part in underage drinking. I have health consequences, bladder conditions, and fibromyalgia. All of which stems from the horrific rape and aftermath I survived.

When I hear of the suicidality, errant mental health diagnosis, homelessness and poverty today’s MST Survivors are enduring, I wonder what I would have done, had I not had such an incredible support system with my husband who agreed that I should stay home to raise a family. I’ve found peace, as much as possible, in burying myself in my family life. I’ve dedicated myself to a life of service fostering 13 medically-fragile newborns, and working with a non-profit in Washington State to advocate for foster children. And yet, in my heart of hearts, I know that I have not reached my full potential, according to who I am as a woman, because of my fears of leaving the safe inner circle of my family. I know that thousands of survivors suffer a much worse fate.

More than twenty years later, it’s clear nothing has changed, things have gotten worse, and something must be done about this, now. Getting injured in the line of duty is one thing. But enabling a rapist, tolerating a culture which tolerates them, where they can hide undetected, is another. I believe it is our duty to speak out, and demand our government right these wrongs. It is unfortunate that to make this need a reality, it is necessary for me to share this very intimate, and personal tragedy, but it clearly is necessary.

Thank you for letting me share my story.

Base Boston, the Coast Guard, and Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault

Base Boston

It’s the headquarters for the Coast Guard’s entire First District. It’s where many victims of sexual assault in the service get sent. And it’s where, all too often, their military careers then come to an end.

read full story here and in the current issue of Boston Magazine

U.S Sailor Gang Raped


Anonymous, United States Navy

On 16 November 2011 I was sitting at the ER at the Dayton VA and this male Veteran approached me and asked me “to go out back and have sex with him”. I said “what”, he said “let’s go out back and fuck”. It brought back all my memories that I had hidden for so many years. I just got up and went back home and took an extra 2 diazepam. I was at the ER for my anxiety in the first place. It brought back so many memories of what happened to me when I was active duty and what happened to my children.

First, it was in June 5th 1982, I was 18, and at my first duty station in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. I lived in the Bundy Barracks and worked for the Navy Exchange, (I ran a mini store at the main barracks). One night a friend named Sara asked me to go to the Seabee Club with her so I went one Saturday night, I remember we were talking to a couple of guys who had bought us a couple of cokes, I believe my coke was drugged because the next thing I remember was being at the bus stop alone the next morning waiting for a bus to be taken back to the Bundy Barracks. I do not remember what happened to Sara. As I was sitting there waiting for the bus I was having vivid memories of different men having sex with me, I did not know who they were or that they even knew me. I do not remember faces; all I could see in my mind was that there were several men. I have no clue as to whom or where I even was the night before or even how I got there.

The vivid memories I now have are of different men’s penises in my mouth and in my vagina at different times throughout the night. I remember I was in such a daze in and out. My body was limp and I remember just lying there with no control over anything I did or was being done to me. I remember being dragged from one bed to another I was completely out of it. I remember being at work the next Monday and this guy came in and told me everything that had happened I did not realize that all that had happened. He told me that at least 25 different guys had sex with me.

I then went to the Naval Hospital and was told that if I was to report it that I would be put out of the Navy because it was destruction of government property and that it was my fault for being at the club. I also became pregnant and was diagnosed with Herpes. I was also transferred from the department to MWR, because I didn’t fit in to the NEX as what I was told.

Second around August of 1982 this one guy wanted to date me, and I was to have sex with him or he would get my friend in trouble (he was base police), I did not want it nor did I like it but I felt coerced into doing it. That had occurred a few times. I was transferred to the gym to work I remember one day I was walking to work (I did not have a car) and these guys drove by me and yelled out hey that is the chick we all fucked that one night, (my pregnancy was showing at this time).

Third time was between November and December 1982; the boss at the gym (***** *****) made me perform oral sex. I went to my Sr. Military Officer and he told me that it was my word against the civilians and no one would believe me, he told me that if I perused it I would lose my career and how would I support my child and myself without the military. So I did not fight for my rights yet again. I then remember I was stationed at Gt. Lakes Naval Hospital, where as I was the administration assistant to a Lt. who was the department head. He and I worked in the same small office. He made sexual advances toward me all the time. Told me I would have great evaluations and he could do a lot for me if I did certain sexually things. I kept telling him no. Because of all the above I have never been in a “real” relationship. I spent most of my time with my children watching movies, playing kids games and doing kid things.

In September 1989, I received orders to Guantanamo Bay Cuba, and I had to leave my children behind until I received base housing. I worked with this Sr. Chief Corpsman for over a year he said he and his wife would take care of them. I paid them $1500.00, took over clothes and dropped my children and their clothes off with them. I came back 35 days later and picked up my kids to find them bruised and balled spots on their heads. Took them to a friend’s house (Dental Tech Chief), I put my kids in the bath and they had bruises all over them and cigar burns on their bottoms, I then took my kids to the Naval Hospital to get pictures taken and contacted NIS.

There were reports done, my girls ages 6 and 3 were both sexually abused and my 2 year old son was also. It took me 6 months to get my son to sleep on a bed and use a blanket and pillow. He would crawl in a corner and scream instead of going to sleep. November 1989 I started going to the Naval Hospital Mental Health Department and started medication for Depression and anxiety, due to the sexual, physical, emotional abuse my children suffered. My children were beat with a wooden spoon; my youngest two had bald spots all over their heads. My middle daughter was made to eat like a dog on the floor; she was also thrown down concrete stairs and hit a concrete wall at the bottom of the stairs with no medical attention and has caused brain damage. My middle daughter had gone through many tests when she was 4, for brain damage and she was place on ritalin at age 4, and diagnosed as Mental Retarded at age 9 and Borderline Personality Disorder at age 18. She has been so hard to deal with her behavior has been so out of control several times I have had to call the police but they told me since she is not being abused there is nothing that they can do. I did all that I could do that I had to give up guardianship a few years ago because I could not handle it any more. She is 27 and still requires 24/7/365 care.

Since I got out of the Navy, in 1992, I have been homeless 5 times and have moved 13 times because I don’t feel comfortable where I was living. I’ve had at least 16 jobs since I have been out of the Navy. I have not ever worked in the field of social work, which I have my degree in.

Senior Airman raped in Okinawa

Sarah, United States Air Force

It all began 22 March 2003. I landed in a foreign land as a technical school graduate. After departing my flight I got settled into this new land called Okinawa. When I finally got acclimated to the shop I met my first supervisor, Staff Sergeant ***** Our first supervisor/trainee session was at CoCo’s, the local curry shop. Since this was all new to me, I thought that this was how bonds were built between the ranks. Then **** began telling me about all of his heterosexual and homosexual relationships he had been having on the island. Mind you, this man was married with a child. I began to feel like this encounter was not going as it should and was feeling very uncomfortable about the topic.

After our food came he propositioned me. He said, “If you have sex with me I will give you a five out of five on your performance report. If not, I will give you a one and take away all hopes of your having any type of successful career in the military.” I held off on his advances. Every day I worked with him was a day I would dread. He would ask questions such as: “If this tool were my penis, what would you do with it?” I avoided him at all costs. There was only one other female in the shop. One day we were having a drink and ****’s  name was mentioned and I told her what was going on. Later she informed the Flight Chief without my knowledge. The next thing I knew, I was being questioned in the Flight Chief’s office and I told him everything that was going on. He changed my shift and supervisor. Then he swept the incident under the rug because it was clear that Staff Sergeant **** was the flight’s golden child who received all of the awards.

I’m not quite sure whether I developed an allergy to jet fuel or if it had something to do with all the stress I was under in my shop. Either way, I could no longer do my duty as a fuel system mechanic. In October I began working for the squadron doing odds and ends jobs. In March the dorm needed an escort to take Okinawans in and out of the dorm rooms so they could work on the fire suppression system. I began working with the contractors and one of the men began to become very friendly with me. I just ignored his behavior, not seeing him as threatening. He would point to his penis and say “piku, piku.” I ignored him because I didn’t know what that meant.

Then on 29 March 2004 we went to room 145 of building 600. I was reading a Playstation magazine article about a samurai video game. He came over and asked to look at the article. I showed it to him and he took his phone out and showed me a picture of his baby daughter. Then he put his phone away and grabbed my shoulders and started to rub them. I pushed his hands away and made an “X” with my arms and told him to go back to work. Then he grabbed my breasts and began rubbing them. I made an “X” with my arms and told him no and to go back to work. Then he grabbed for my BDU (battle dress uniform) pants and unbuttoned them and began stroking my groin area with his fingers. I pushed him away and made an “X” and told him to work. Then I pulled out my phone and texted my boyfriend at the time who then stayed with me the rest of the shift. That was on a Friday. On Monday, my boyfriend informed the dorm chief what had transpired on Friday.

I begged to speak with my First Sergeant but was denied. First the dorm chief spoke with the lead contractor. He brushed it off. Then she received approval from her squadron to call the security forces and they showed up along with the Okinawan police. I identified my attacker out of a lineup and continued asking to speak with my First Sergeant. Then the Okinawan police took me back to the room and had me reenact everything while they took pictures. At this point I still had not seen or spoken with my First Sergeant and the Okinawan police took me to their police station. They allowed no English speaking person to be with me at any time. My squadron Commander, First Sergeant, and Flight Chief were all too busy to come to the police station to find out what was going on. So the squadron sent a random Staff Sergeant whom I had never met to assist me in any way he could. Once again I had to identify my attacker from another lineup. I gave my statement and signed something that I think was what I had said to the police officers, however I wasn’t sure because it was all in kanji, the written language of Japan.

After the Okinawan police had finished their questioning, I had to go to the Military Law Enforcement Desk, which instructed me to return the next day. When I returned, I had to first give my statement to a detective, and then I had to write my statement out completely. After all that, I was finally allowed to see my First Sergeant. After I began talking to the First Sergeant, he pulled me into the Commander’s office. My Commander told me I was too emotional for the situation and that he didn’t want me in “his” military. He then called the mental health clinic and began asking how he could get me discharged from the military. So the process of being separated from the service began while I was dealing with the sexual assault. After that I met with the military prosecutor and again told the details of my traumatic event. Finally I made it to the Okinawan prosecutor. He told me the man who had sexually assaulted me would not be tried.

I was told by this prosecutor that it was my attacker’s first time and that because his wife had just had a baby, what he had done to me was ok. At this juncture, the people above me tried discharging me from the military on two separate occasions and they failed each time. After three years in Japan, I was sent to McChord AFB in Lakewood, WA. I was working with a therapist on getting over my trauma overseas. And then, while at home one day, I was raped. I was the head coach of the squadron soccer team and one of the players was a Master Sergeant in my flight. There had been a couple of complaints about his behavior to Military Equal Opportunity, information I wish I had known beforehand. On the last Friday of April we played a hard game and lost, not surprising since we didn’t win any games that season. I went home as usual, cleaned up and sprawled out on my futon to watch a movie.

I received a couple of phone calls from a Master Sergeant **** asking me to go out to a bar with him. I told him no and that I was going to sleep. Around 10:00 p.m. I received a knock on the door. I looked out the peephole, saw that it was Master Sergeant ****, and thinking something important was going on I opened the door. From that point on my life was in fast forward to pause to slow motion to the end. When I opened the door I could smell the booze on his breath. He grabbed my arm and took me to my bedroom. He threw me on my bed and tore off my clothes. He held a knife to my throat. I asked him what he was doing. He didn’t answer.

Then I froze. Within a split second, I had flashbacks of every trauma I had ever experienced. Then he was on top of me with his pants down and he began the act of raping me. He first began by inserting his penis into my vagina. It seemed like he was rocking back and forth forever. Then he told me to tell him that I wanted him to cum inside me. Wanting things to end, I said it. Then he came. Then he flipped me over and began to sodomize me. I just remember the pain and then him telling me to say the same phrase to him again. So I complied again. He pulled his black boxers and black Levis up. He then hit me a couple of times and told me no one must know of our relationship. So I kept quiet.

About the end of May I had been drinking and when someone mentioned Master Sergeant ***, I began to cry and told them I had been raped by him. Little did I know that by revealing this information, I would eventually be victimized again by deceit and falsehoods. In late July my Commander promised to hold my hand during an entire Office of Special Investigations inquiry. I believed her, but unfortunately that turned out to be a blatant lie. When I finally gathered up enough courage to talk to the investigators, I let them know all that had happened. They did their investigation and then they called Master Sergeant **** in for questioning. He claimed that on the night in question, the team was going to a bar to hang out. He said he went to my place to pick me up to go with, but that I had told him I didn’t want to go and that we sat and had a drink. Once the Commander heard his story she backed away from me and said she couldn’t choose sides. She then told me that his wife had just had a baby and that this was his first offense. She then assigned Master Sergeant **** to a workstation 100 yards away from mine which meant that I would have to see him each and every day when I left or came to work. Some days he would approach me and I would have anxiety attacks. Other times I was forced to be in the same room with him. That year I was hospitalized in the psychiatric unit seven separate times. The Commander grew angry and told me that I needed to have bearing and to start behaving like a good Airman.

After being hospitalized a few times I lost all faith in the military and its elite brotherhood through thick and thin and requested a medical discharge. I missed out on making rank—something I had been looking forward to—but I thought I would be able to stop reliving the trauma with the military no longer there. That did not work. Sometimes I get down on myself, thinking I didn’t go to war so why do I get to be a veteran? I did what only one percent of the general population does. I signed that dotted line and said I would march into battle for my country if called upon. I just wasn’t called upon. Because of the traumatic experiences I had on the homefront, I had to take care of that first before they would send me to any more traumatic places, which is why I still am a veteran. I am proud to be a veteran. I think all veterans should be proud. I’ve been in inpatient psychiatric units on approximately ten separate occasions. When you are in the inpatient unit, you are stripped of everything, given pajamas to wear all day, and are medicated. When you’re in the unit you cannot leave for any reason other than a discharge. There is a possibility that you can be put into four-point restraints. Once you become stable enough to return to real life, they then release you. But what is real life when you live with post-traumatic stress disorder?