Coast Guard

The bystanders

A few years ago I was serving on a cutter in the Coast Guard (I’m at a different unit now). We were at a week-long port call and were moored up at a pier. I was on the mess deck eating lunch with a female coworker on a Monday and she told me a story.

She said that she was out at a bar with a bunch of other people from the ship and they all got pretty drunk. After coming back to the ship one of the guys pushed her up against a wall and sexually assaulted her. She couldn’t push him away and had to wait for someone else to walk by and pull him off of her. Another guy walked by and saw it happening, but didn’t do anything because the two of them were friends.

Now, we’re friends. I think of her as like a little sister. I was not happy when I heard this. I knew that I wasn’t thinking clearly because I was so angry, so I didn’t do anything and waited until later to talk to someone else. I got her to tell the story to another female that we work with and I said that my feeling is that we should tell our supervisor and get these two guys in trouble.

The female that it happened to said that she doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and to just let it go. The other female said that we should just do whatever the other wants to do with it. Their main thought was that we’re in a job that no one on the ship likes, and the other two were thought of as everyone’s friends.

They were afraid that she would get in trouble and everyone would take the guys’ side. As much as I hated to let it go….they were probably right. We never did anything about it. It still haunts me to this day. I hate seeing bad people go unpunished.

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?

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

Coast Guardsman raped twice, still serving with rapist.

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

A Coastie had poker night at his house. Only three Coasties attended. The other Coastie was the designated driver because he is a mormon and does not drink nor does he even play poker. Now that I think about it I am not even sure why he attended.  Knowing that I didn’t have to worry about driving myself home I drank and had a good time.

DD pulled into a parking lot of an office complex. It was evening on a Saturday and the parking lot was dark and empty.He told me to get out of the car. I asked him why and he said to just do it. I didn’t think much about it. He told me to sit down on the ground.  I thought it was weird but did it anyway. He raped me.

After he finished with me he told me to get back into his car. I was very numb and I did what he told me to. He drove me to his home. At his house he raped me again. He then told me to wash myself. He called me a dity slut and told me that I should be ashamed at myself for having sex in public. He said that all women are slut. He was very angry. He kept on swearing at me about how slutty and promiscuous that I was and how much I should hate myself for it.

As instructed I took a shower at his house. I was numbed and scared.

He told me to get back into his car. I don’t remember much after that.

Somehow I ended up at home. I woke up on my bed naked. I was still obviously very drunk. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I felt very ashamed.

Everybody loves the rapist. He’s the one that is always kissing everyone’s ass. Not to mention he is a of higher rank than me. I wasn’t going to report him.

I kept the rape to myself not telling a sole.  One night I was home and felt as if I was reliving the assault all over again. I went online and found out about RAINN. I did their online chat and they told me that they don’t have listed any support from the Coast Guard in my state. They told me instead to talk to the national guard and gave me a contact number. After talking to RAINN for a while I was able to feel more calm and it helped me.

I did not call the National Guard right away. I was very hesitant to talk to anyone. I liked RAINN because I was able to remain anonymous at the online chat but picking up the phone and talking to someone was very scary for me. Several weeks later I felt the same feeling like I was reliving the rape. I chatted with RAINN again and they told me the same thing as last time.

I looked at the National Guard website and was able to pull out the email address of the SARC that they gave me the number to. I set up an anonymous email account and emailed the SARC. She responded right away and said that she can certainly help me even though I am in the Coast Guard. She told me to call her. I waited a few weeks to call her but glad that I finally did!

First few phone calls I was hesitant to even give her my real name. She did not care. She said that she understood and was very nice to me. I was afraid that she would tell the Coast Guard what happened and that I’ll lose my career! I told her about how I feel like I am being raped all over again. She says that it is very common and it is called a flashback. We probably talked 6 times on the phone, still I was anonymous until I gained the courage to give her my real identity and meet with her in person.

I also emailed the Coast Guard SARC but never received a response. One day I got a sudden burst of bravery and called the Coast Guard SARC in my district but since I refused to give my name I was hung up on. Picking up the phone and saying: “Hello. My name is so and so and I do not know you but I want to report a rape” is freaking hard! Why can’t they understand that? Sometimes saying “Hello. I rather be anonymous for now. I was raped. What can you do for me?” is much easier. I do not know if this is a Coast Guard policy or just this specific SARC has a paranoia problem. Either way why was the National Guard able to talk to me when I did not feel comfortable sharing my name but not the Coast Guard?

The National Guard SARC said that everything that I tell her would be kept confidential and I have nothing to worry about with my command finding out. She was very nice. I opened up to her. She defintely wanted to help me. I told her about what I knew about how the Coast Guard treated rape survivors. I even told her about the Coast Guard SARC. She says that she only heard nightmares coming out of the Coast Guard and now she is seeing it first hand. She says she agrees that the Coast Guard is not doing their part to help rape survivors but since I came to her through RAINN that she would treat me the same way she treats those in the Guard.  What kind of reputation does the Coast Guard have?

She set me up with counseling. I did not like the counselor. It was nothing that the counselor did wrong except it was just not a good fit for me. The SARC right away got me an appointment with another counselor that I felt very comfortable talking to and who I still see today. I really like how she took into account my feelings. This SARC needs to win SARC of the year. She has  been great!

The SARC also recommended that I talk to the Military Rape Crisis Center because they are pretty much the experts when it comes to Coast Guard rape. I emailed Panayiota with my fake email address and she also reassured me that it is all confidential. After several weeks of her helping me without even knowing who I was I finally disclosed my real identity. I email her these super long rants that does not make much sense yet she always have the right thing to say.  She been a lifesaver!

Panayiota hooked me up with a yoga program specifically for those with PTSD that I am trying my best to continue going because I know it’ll be helpful. It is hard to go and be around other people. I became very isolated since the rape. I don’t even want to leave my home most days.

Earlier this week we received an email from the Vice-Commandant for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Rapist made a huge deal about it and said that it is horrible that women are being raped.  He printed out the poster and put one on everyone’s desk. It makes me want to barf.   I serve with a bunch of people that start every rape prevention discussion with: “Many women would lie about rape.”  I rather be raped a million and one more times than have any of them find out what happened to me. May can’t come soon enough if I have to hear rape this rape that every day in April from my rapist.

I am diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Every evening I drink until I black out. I can’t sleep any other way. I am afraid to even leave my house. I go to work. I come home and repeat it 5 days a week. On days off I stay home. I have been a cutter in high school and recently fell back into this habit. Thighs, feets, breasts, stomach anywhere that is covered by a uniform is now filled with cuts or scars. I vist this website because it keeps me sane knowing that I am not alone.

I do not know how much longer I can go through with this. Everyday is a struggle.  I can not do this any longer.  I give up.