My Duty to Speak

First Class Petty Officer (E-6) raped while serving in the United States Coast Guard.

The first time I was assaulted in the CG was by my Company Commander in boot camp. Then there was a rape while on liberty just before we graduated. Oh, but I had been drinking: ergo my “fault”…. it took me YEARS – my entire career – to understand that I was incapable of consenting.

I was raped in “A” school… I became promiscuous because I was told “You joined the Coast Guard. What did you expect? You’re just morale gear!”. I was raped at my first duty station (I was a Reservist at the time) and told “No one will believe you. You’re just a Reservist”. So the programming I was getting was: You don’t matter. You are never going to measure up. If you want to stay in the CG, you need to just suck it up and deal with it. Promiscuity was a coping mechanism because in my battered psyche it was the ONLY way I could find someone who “had my back”.

Gods… what a dreadful, twisted mentality at such a young age! Somehow my brain made it into that I “mattered” and had “control”… I DID matter, but was far from having any control. You’d think I would have gotten out… but, instead, I dropped out of college after getting raped at my Reserve Unit and went on Active Duty. When I would struggle, I was sent for counseling and with TWO different counselors at two different points in my career I was told flat out “If you want to stay in the Coast Guard, you have to be found Fit For Full Duty, so it’s your choice”. My choice… Hide the fact that I have severe damage done TO me in order to stay in the service that I DEARLY love, or face discharge for “Adjustment Disorder” or “Personality Disorder” or some other BS diagnosis. Some choice!

Obviously I chose the former. Failed relationships. Failed marriages. Never quite “measuring up” because I was terrified more of the bullying than assaults. I developed a potty mouth and was first to jump to a sexual innuendo because if I said it, “they” wouldn’t say it ABOUT me. Another coping mechanism. Easy to do when I was the only woman. I only had to stand up for myself, and that was impossible. Forward to 2004. I was struggling at my unit mainly because of misogynistic Neanderthals (I was, and am, a Boatswain’s Mate. Not the best rate in which to be if you want to avoid bullying morons) and I already crumbling near the breaking point.

I didn’t understand what was happening in my brain – the hidden things – the fears – everything there was shut down hard. All I knew was that I thought daily of suicide. Had planned to just step off the fantail during some deployment. Everything hurt that badly. I lost the ability to even qualify for watch stations – the big ones – Underway OOD on two different ships… just could NOT make it to the boards… terrified. Then I was raped while on leave. This time it was by a civilian. I came back into the area and reported it to my Command via my FEMALE XO (the CO was plain useless). I was told “Because you were not raped on Coast Guard property or by a Coast Guardsman the Coast Guard is not obligated to help you”.

My mind instantly snapped to and the thought came “If I had broken my arm on liberty, would the Coast Guard have set it?” Of course the answer is “yes”. So, how is this damage any different? The HS2 on board at the time told me “40 year old women aren’t raped” and something about how I should be “thankful”. What a POS he is! The XO tried to tell me about “Needs of the Guard”. Her punk ass had been in all of, what, 6-7 years INCLUDING the Academy? I’d done THREE geo-bachelor tours in that amount of time. I had over 20, but not all Active Duty though. I was still on leave and when I got back I had TAD orders to the Group nearby.

The XO there directed me to go to the Local Women’s Resource Center. I also got counseling locally and finally found an AWESOME therapist. Here it is 2012 and I’m STILL seeing him! Anyhoo… I started working through repressed memories. Meanwhile I had to return to my ship, where my Command was trying to get an Administrative Separation through.

Because of my longevity I was able to file a rebuttal. I had been removed from the ship and sent to work in our “office” ashore. The office was just me in a building. We got a new XO and he was no better than the former . I put in to become a Victim Support Specialist for our District and the request was denied because our unit “didn’t need one”. I was starting to get a little “Towanda” to me by now and the Command was forced to let me become one, even though they still wanted me out. I was given access to my Medical Record because it was in disarray (about 3″ thick and not in order). While I was putting it in chronological order I started noticing things that matched up to the memories I’d been recording through therapy. There was a distinct pattern. There was “proof” of the times when I was being assaulted with things like increased trips to medical for things that they were never able to diagnose that were summarily just ignored. Especially during my tour in Alaska, where I had been FORCED to file a Sexual Harassment charge (DACOWITZ had just been started and I was told my orders would be held up if I didn’t comply) but after 2 months of hell CGI told me they couldn’t get any corroboration. No shit? Really? Where the person was either a perpetrator or a witness? What a surprise!!!

In 2006 we had a Change of Command and the XO figured the new CO would believe everything the old Command said of me. I had been busy, though. When the XO gave me the letter so they could Admin Sep me (by this time they were calling it “unsuitability due to ADHD”) I had my response in hand. I created a document 2″ thick, bound, color coded, indexed and including what I called a “Trauma Timeline” giving dates, incidents, NAMES and corresponding entries in my medical record for things like recurring UTIs, and so on, as well as the Coast Guard’s own policies, all available information I could find regarding Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD, plus the information regarding Fibromyalgia (both of the latter have many of the same cognitive issues as ADHD). The XO told me that I could only submit ONE page and I stood up to him. “No Sir, THIS is my response!”. He had no choice but to hand it to the brand new CO.

The CO came directly to see me. He told me that he and his wife had been stationed at the same unit as I in Alaska, but arrived shortly after my departure. His wife worked for Work-Life and they heard about an incident that had been investigated. It turned out that was me. So when he received my “response” and read about that chapter in my career he KNEW I was telling the truth and HE hand carried it to District, directly to the Admiral THAT DAY. My request? My request was to be allowed to remain on Active Duty for the remaining 6 MONTHS I needed to get my Active Duty 20 and be allowed to retire.

Thanks to him, I got it. I also got an interview with CGIS that lasted 5 hours (no breaks… I just rambled on). I never asked for anyone to be prosecuted. I never asked for anything other than for this crap to CHANGE (unfortunately it hasn’t) and be allowed to retire. The CGIS Agents actually told me they were sorry all this had happened to me and thanked me for my service. Sounds great in the end. Yes, I got my PTSD diagnosis and was able to get Concurrent Receipt on my Retirement and VA Disability. I’m 100% P&T and could get all my pay from the VA so it was tax free, but I’ll be DAMNED if the CG isn’t going to pay me my retirement. But it’s not better.

I still feel like I missed out on so much of the CG. I haven’t really been able to stay in contact with former shipmates. I have two really close ones, both females, both are now Chiefs and I could not be prouder! So many of my “Sea Babies” went on to be Chiefs and above. I did make a difference. It was during my last year while part of the local Domestic and Sexual Assault Response Team that I learned something that made the most difference in my healing. Here I was trying to learn to help others and paid my way to a course given to professionals. When I learned that it’s not just “Fight” or “Flight” as we’ve heard all our lives… there’s a third. There’s “Freeze”. People who naturally fight can learn to flee and those who naturally flee can learn to fight… those, like me, who lock up – can’t scream – can’t move – may only be able to cry and beg “please don’t!”… we will freeze when threatened personally. I’ve always been able to stand up for others… just not myself. I see now all the times I froze… rapes… assaults… harassment… bullying… to abject terror of failing a board and being ridiculed there toward the last 6 years of my career… all because of something over which I had NO control. It wasn’t my “fault”. It just was. I still can freeze… but now I avoid situations that are “too much” for me, or have someone with me that can help get me “out”. Someone who understands my need to stand with a wall to my back, or who understands when I stop moving and my eyes are like saucers that they need to take me by the hand and MOVE me someplace “safe”. I shop on Amazon.com… heaven for someone who just can’t deal with crowds!

Here it is now 2012. I’ve been retired almost 6 years. I WANT to work with MST Vets. I tend to bounce around in my own little chaotic universe, but when it comes to talking about MST I am brave. I want to help. I am not the norm because I managed to last a full career… but at what expense? If it hadn’t been for ONE person that read my “story” and backed me… I’d be, well… most likely dead. I would have put up with all of that bullshit for nothing. The service I STILL so dearly love would have discarded me as easily as they do those who report the first rape…

Times have changed… or have they? The DoD got cracked down upon, but the Coast Guard so deftly manages to say “Oh, sorry, we’re not DoD! That doesn’t apply to us!”. Bullshit. I dare one of these assholes to tell me “Why are you bashing the CG?!?!” I’ve NEVER bashed the Coast Guard… just individual assholes that screw it up for those who deserve BETTER. I joined in ’81. Between then and 2007 it SHOULD have been better. By now it SHOULD be damn near perfect! But it’s not. It’s still the “Corporate Mentality”. How do we fix it? By speaking out! By putting faces to the acts. It happened to ME. “ME” being all of us. We are a sister AND brotherhood of those who are walking wounded from an invisible war that is ongoing.

This is unacceptable. We may feel our voices alone are weak, but together we CAN and DO make a difference. Perhaps we can write letters to the First Lady and encourage her NOT to let her daughters join the Military, and point out how our beloved Coast Guard manages to continue to put everything else above Victim Support. We support the Coast Guard by making it BETTER than it is. Love to you my sisters and brothers

~ BM1 Elsa Nethercot (USCG, Retired)

U.S soldier raped and denied justice.

Anonymous, United States Army

In 2001 I joined the US Army. February of 2002 I left for basic training. In Aug of 02 I arrived at my unit in Hanau Germany. My chain of command during this time was constantly telling me what an outstanding soldier I was. I worked hard, did everything they told me to do, they had no complaints. I even broke records for performing my job accurately and quickly. I also shot expert with the M16. Then in late November 2002 an NCO in another battery tried to rape me. I was able to fight him off long enough for someone to overhear at which point the NCO fled.

I went to my NCO and informed him that I had been attacked; at the time I felt I could trust him. He told me to write it all down Asap and then he’d find out what the chain of command wanted me to do. A few hours later he informed me that per my platoon sergeant I was to go see the equal opportunity NCO and file a sworn statement. I filed a report through the EO NCO per my chain of commands instructions, the EO NCO kept my hand written copy and typed up a sworn statement and told me I could get a copy from my first sergeant. Several days later my first sergeant called me into his office where he told me “forget about it, it never happened” then he proceeded to shred the report. I was never given any copies.

I sank into a major depression and had to begin seeking treatment at mental health who diagnosed me with major depression. During this time suddenly my chain of commands view about me changed drastically. No matter what I did I was treated as if I was the worst soldier there. My counseling statements began reflecting this as well. In December 2002 I was diagnosed with pneumonia and put on quarters. My first sergeant decided he wanted me to guard trucks at campo pond (there was a snow storm going on at the time as well). I told him I was on quarters because I had pneumonia, he told me he didn’t care there was a building out there that I could serve my quarters at.

At 5am those of us on guard duty were kicked out of the buildings and forced to stand outside in the snow and 20 degree weather. This caused my condition to get much worse and last for much longer than it should have. At the very end of December of 02 we were sent to Israel for what later turned into a 6 month deployment. During the deployment the treatment I received by my chain of command was so severe I attempted suicide. I also went to my chain of command several times about harassment from one of my fellow soldiers; I informed them that if they didn’t do something to get him to leave me alone I would be forced to take matters into my own hands. Their answer to this was to discipline me for threatening another soldier and to take my weapon from me.

At the beginning of June when we returned to Germany my NCO began to give me numerous negative counseling statements, he informed me that my first sergeant wanted to build up enough evidence to chapter me for a pattern of misconduct. Shortly after that in mid June 2003 I was injured and almost severed my spinal cord. After this I was under profile for a while not to wear any gear. I informed my chain of command of my profile; they told me they would remove me from the guard duty roster. This did not happen. On July 9, 2003 they attempted to give me an article 15 for dereliction of duty. They held the hearing July 11, 2003 later and gave me no opportunity to see JAG. The article 15 was thrown out by my commander because my platoon LT had written in her book the exact date and time which I had fulfilled notifying the chain of command of my profile.

Within 4 days of them failing to give me an article 15, July 15, 2003, I was notified that I would be getting chaptered out of the service on a 5-13 personality disorder discharge. By this point, I admit, I was ready to get out of the service. I was majorly depressed because of the lack of action on my sexual assault. I was also in severe back pain. They informed me that if I tried to fight my chapter they would make my life a living hell. Once I told them I would accept it, they finally gave me some peace and left me alone, I stopped receiving any counseling statements except for the ones telling me I was a high risk soldier and should be safe when driving. On my birthday November 17, 2003 I was finally told that I would be leaving the service as of November 22, 2003.

On Nov 22 when I went for final out processing I was then informed for the first time that they intended to recoup $3,412.97 from me. As of July 2010 that amount was $6,411.13. They have now started to take money from my Social security disability to try to recoup this. The balance now after having them recoup portions of tax refunds and my social security is now just under $3k. I still refuse to pay financially for the horror of getting sexually assaulted then watching as the people who are supposed to back you up and ensure proper punishment happens instead do the exact opposite and instead choose to torment and punish the victim.

I am terrified of having to fight this but I know I have to. I will not be victimized repeatedly by them. Every little reminder of having to deal with DoD puts me into a severe panic attack. But I have to be strong enough for just long enough so that one day I may have some glimmer of hope of some kind of recovery. Over these last ten years I’ve dealt with nightmares, flashbacks, my ears are a huge trigger because when the NCO attacked me he sucked on my ear and whispered into it, meaning that now I’ve had to teach my kids not to whisper into mommies ears. I didn’t talk about what happened to me to my family for years. Earlier this year though I started talking and my sister was pretty shocked. She even told me I deserved to get the discharge I got because before I joined the military I had several different jobs. I loved being in the Army, I loved my job and I was good at it. To have my sister say I deserved what happened and that I was just being over sensitive because the military is supposed to be hard hurt. It’s made me doubt everything and made it all hurt so much worse. I wonder every day now if they were right in how they were treating me afterward, or was it retaliation. Recently the stress from all this got so bad it actually made my brain short circuit and I had several seizures. Thankfully it all seems to be calming down, but now I keep getting these debilitating headaches. It’s almost 1 am as I finish typing this now, I can hardly sleep anymore. I haven’t slept good in years. I wake up screaming sometimes feeling hands on me where no one is touching me. I can hardly face the world because I can’t trust people.

My husband practically walks on egg shells to keep my trust, he’s had to work so hard to earn it and keep it. He’s my rock. I know it’s hard for him too though because he witnessed what my chain of command did to me after the assault. We met and became friends about 3 weeks after the assault. I can never explain how much he’s supported me through all this, and he has stood by my side as I’ve told my story over and over again. He’s held me as flashbacks and memories have overtaken me and helped me sort through the jumbled mess my memory has become. It seems lately every flashback helps me remember the little details of what my chain of command did afterward. I have no issues remembering the assault though, and that is the one thing I wish I could forget.

Active Duty Coast Guardsman face retaliation for seeking treatment for rape.

Active Duty, United States Coast Guard

I was raped and chose unrestricted reporting. My Chief and others told me that they would stand by me and that my assailant is going to go to prison. They saw my injuries and knew of “the history” of my assailant that they promised that they would testify against him and want to see him sent to the brig.  I was interviewed by CGI and it came back that there might have been other victims.

I was sent inpatient for almost one month to help with me with the rape.

After the program I was sent to a different unit than my assailant.  I called my old Chief and those at my old unit that promised to stick by me and they told me that they were advised to no longer speak to me. I left a message for my victim advocate a couple of weeks ago and am still waiting to hear back from her.

The investigation came back as not enough evidence to move forward. Everyone found out and called me a liar for crying rape. I was told that because I was the one in the loony bin and not my rapist that something was obviously wrong with me.

My biggest mistake has been to agree to go inpatient. Before that I had witnesses that were willing to testify, CGIS that believed me, a command that was trying to help me. Because of my inpatient treatment I now have a scarlet letter on my forehead that reads warning. crazy woman who spent almost a month at a treatment program.

At the program I was told about MRCC by a few patients and MRCC were able to set me up counseling for as soon as I got out.  The doctor that the Coast Guard requires me to see told me that my diagnosis for PTSD is a mistake and is trying to determine what is wrong with me. The doctor feels that because my parents divorced when I was a child that I am having problems dealing with that and it might make me ineligible for military service. The doctor also thinks I might be having problems adjusting to the Coast Guard. The doctor that I am seeing that been referred to me by MRCC told me that I am suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of Military Sexual Trauma.

I want to stay in the Coast Guard but reading all the stories on here and knowing that I have problems because my parents are divorce leaves me very scared and depressed.

Coast Guard captain verbally assault civilian victim advocate at Coast Guard Base Boston

K, Civilian

Several years back I heard about the Military Rape Crisis Center looking for volunteers to canvas throughout the Northeast informing Active Duty service members and Veterans about the help that is out there for them if they have been sexually victimized. I submitted my application to be a member of the Street Team and was chosen. I spent that summer with 14-20 others working to eliminate sexual violence in the military.

 That summer we made 32 stops in 12 states. We were often welcomed with open arms; given bottles of water when it was hot outside and a table inside the military base when it was pouring rain. Most importantly we built long lasting relationships and members of the Street Team still are invited back for pre/post deployment events, yellow ribbon events and to serve as advisors to the sexual assault prevention and response office.

 Out of thirty-two military installations we only received negative feedback from one unit, the sole Coast Guard base that we visited; Coast Guard Boston (comprised of Sector Boston, District 1, Station Boston, BSU/ISC Boston, several cutters and so forth) Split between two separate locations just several blocks apart Coast Guard Boston has since grown notorious for having the most sexual assault cases per capita seeking assistance through the Military Rape Crisis Center than any other U. S military installation in the entire world.

 Two of our Street Team members are former members of Coast Guard Boston. Both were raped and forced out of their careers. Due to their personal connection to the base we knew it was going to be the most difficult stop. However, we soon realized that the difficulties wouldn’t be from the survivors dealing with triggers (they are two of the strongest people I ever met and am in awe by how well they handled being back at a place that caused them so much trauma) but instead from the apathy, ignorance, denial and downright abuse that we encountered from members (mostly Officers) at the various units that comprised of Coast Guard Boston.

At Coast Guard Boston when we were told the “f-word” in conjunction with “nobody was ever raped here” we knew that we were in for a long battle.

We did not allow their apathy to defer us away from helping those stationed at Coast Guard Boston. With the mentality of “If they are willing to treat mostly civilian rape advocates in such a sick and abusive manner one can only imagine how badly rape survivors are being treated behind the gate.”

Long after our 32-stop military tour ended many of us continued visiting outside USCG Boston on a regular basis. It was clear that we, as anti-rape advocates, were viewed in a negative light while the rape culture within Coast Guard Boston thrived.

It did not take long for the following to happen:

• SARCs from around the nation called us upset that they were contacted by Coast Guard Boston to “stay away from us”. The victim blaming statements given to them by Coast Guard Boston obvious made SARCs upset the way that survivors are being treated. The SARCs understood that Coast Guard Boston contacting and threatening them was a retaliation against our Director, a Coast Guard veteran that was brutally raped and sent to Coast Guard Boston and further mistreated.. The SARCs were obviously upset that  Coast Guard Boston was suggesting to do an injustice to Armed Service members; not giving them all the support that is available to them, because Coast Guard Boston wanted to continue their abusive behavior against survivors. Obviously the SARCs were quick to join in out initiative to help survivors in the U.S Coast Guard after witnessing first hand what we had to go through in Boston. Non-Coast Guard SARCs and Victim Advocates especially around New England are still our biggest supporters and we receive the many referrals from them. Non-Coast Guard SARCs are also willing to work with Coast Guard rape survivors to help them get the help that they need. If you are a Coast Guard rape survivor please know that you can go to another military installation to get help.

• One of the two rape survivor that were with us lost her privilege of entering the base even when invited! When she did enter the base prior to the ban she remained professional and did not take her advocacy with her. To this day she is not able to get a response from JAG officer Christine Cutter or anyone else on that base.

 • Residing in the North End I often took my dog on walks to one of the few public parks in the neighbor; a park directly next to Coast Guard Boston on Commercial Street. A Coast Guardsman that recognized me as a Street Team member was clearly not happy with us helping rape survivors. The name on his blouse said DeCola . I later found out was Peter DeCola the Executive Officer of Coast Guard Boston. Decola chose not to help a shipmate that were being forced out of her career for reporting rape.

• We received threats, prank calls and harassing emails (often from @uscg.mil email addresses). When this was brought to the attention of the Coast Guard Investigative Services they chose not to take any actions.

While other military branches were sending us thank you notes and open invitations to return we were receiving threats at Coast Guard Boston. At all units we were doing the same exact thing, using the same exact materials (with only minor change to focus on particular branch of service) and saying the same exact script. Thrity-one military installations are saying “Thank you. You are a godsend” and one is saying “Go f-yourself. You are all crazy, horrible people that are saying bad things about the Coast Gard”.

Sadly, though our predictions of an environment that thrives on “rape survivors are the bad guys” and “rape survivors should be punished” were true and it did not take long for phone calls to be made into the Military Rape Crisis Center office from rape survivors based out of Boston.

The most memorable being a Coast Guardsman that took our flier paused to read it, looked up at me with the saddest eyes and walked away without saying a word. Several months later I ran into him in the waiting room while he was waiting to receive services through at the Military Rape Crisis Center. The sadness he had in his eyes that day still gets to me.

Because of confidentiality I was never told of his situation or what had happened to him but I know that our work standing outside Coast Guard Boston helped him get closer to receiving the services that he deserved.

A local business approved fliers to go up on their bulletin board. An employee told me of an incident in which a Coast Guardsman in full uniform saw the flier, stormed in, ripped the flyer off the bulletin, crumbled it up and threw it on the floor.

Another incident involved one of the two Coast Guards rape survivors were invited back to the base only to be publicly humiliated and left out in a rainy, cold February being laughed at, threatened and told that she is not welcomed back because she is helping rape survivors. Why invite her in the first place? It was all part of the scheme to let us know that anti-rape activists are just not welcomed.

Several members of Coast Guard Boston are so angry with folks that help rape survivors because we are unveiling the abuse that they had put on their fellow shipmates. They would go out of their way to continue to slander and put down rape survivors and all that are helping survivors.

Our fight to eliminate the rape culture at Coast Guard Boston is still going on. Our service members are still suffering. The phone at the Center is still ringing from those in the Coast Guard asking for assistance.

Being raised in a small patriotic town in the suburbs of Boston I grew up having the upmost respect for members of the military. Knowing that I personally could never serve (I have Arrhythmias) I know that helping those that are serving is the most patriotic thing that I personally can do.

I support the troops and what better way to show that than to work to eliminate sexual violence against our heroes? Our Coasties need help. They are being raped at an epidemic rate and the very organization that is suppose to help them are turning their back at them, sending out emails to their entire unit to “not talk to the rape survivor” and evidently survivors are kicked out of service and barred from entering the base ever again. If you report rape in the Coast Guard’s eyes you are the bad ones. If you try to help rape survivors in the Coast Guard’s eyes you are the bad one. I am here to tell you all that we are not the bad ones.

Men and women that report rape in the United States Coast Guard deserve to be respected and treated with dignity. Our Coast Guard rape survivors do not deserve to be forced out of service for reporting a rape. Our Coast Guard veterans do not deserve to be barred from entering a Coast Guard installation because they are doing the honorable, noble thing of helping their shipmates.

The days that Coast Guard Boston sweep rape under the rug are running out thanks to the blog www.mydutytospeak.com  started by Coast Guard Boston rape survivor. All survivors now have a voice and an outlet to share the story of abuse that they suffered while serving this nation.

If you are a rape survivor in the military and want to talk to somebody visit Military Rape Crisis Center. There is help out there.

original source

 

Rape at Cannon Air Force Base

Jewel, United States Air Force

In 1975 I joined the USAF. I was 19 years old and very shy and innocent. I believed that most people were good. And still think for the most part people are. My first duty station was Cannon AFB, NM. I worked in a Warehouse where 3 female airmen and about 75 male . I lived off base with my boyfriend he was in the Air Force too.

A friend of his was always harassing with sexual words. One night when my boyfriend was gone this man came looking for my boyfriend he came to the door and asked for him. I didn’t even answer the door, I told him he wasn’t in. He asked to come in I said no. He pushed the door down and pushed me into a spare bedroom by the front door. I remember thinking this wasn’t really happening. He held a gun to my head and said if I screamed he would shoot me. He ripped off my nightgown and raped me. When he got up I just laid in fear. I knew he was probably going to shoot me. But he left out of the room. I thought he was leaving; then suddenly he was back in the room. He had a knife from my kitchen and stabbed me 8 times. I had begged for my life. He left and I could tell that it didn’t look good.

I crawled on my hands and knees to the next door neighbors house. They called the police. Then I remember being taken to hospital. I had to have a blood transfusion. Back then there was no crisis rape counselor just mental health who I saw a man one time and decided I had to get through this alone. They sent me another base to get away from the incident. T

he man went to Leavenworth for 4 years, yes 4 years. I suppressed the whole incident for years. I had a eating disorder for years a form of control of something with my body. I went through 3 marriages , several thoughts of suicide and 1 attempt.. I am 57 years old and I still have nightmares, I am on total disability. I managed some how to stay in the Air Force for 20 years. I don’t think anyone has an idea unless it has happen to you. I pray one day that maybe I could have a normal life. I haven’t given up yet.

Military Women are strong, we learn to adapt to many things in a man’s military. We just didn’t know we’d have to endure rape to be strong.

Airman afraid to report rape.

Jennifer, United States Air Force

I did the same thing Mikayla Bragg did in an effort to appear fine when in reality I was falling apart inside.  I didn’t want my Chain of Command to know how and why I felt the way I did because I was judged, threatened, expected to “suck it up”, and my treatment and medications were used against me.  I, too, was scheduled to go to Iraq in 2008 and had weaned off my medications so that I could do so.  The VA was not willing to sign off on allowing me to deploy because they were afraid that I would have no support if something was to happen to me (they knew that I was trying to be strong but was ready to fall apart).  I tried to fight them but in the end could not continue to hide the information from the military because of Q21 on my security clearance.  Had I been supported from the get go (1999) and allowed to get the help I needed without worrying about how it would affect my career, I could have got healthy a lot sooner.  But, I was not supported at all.  I felt I had to hide the information from my Chain of Command because it was used against me.  I was judged as being “crazy”, “on happy pills”, “a national security risk,” and “weak”.  This type of treatment only compounded the PTSD.  I had no confidentiality if I did get help because everyone in the Chain of Command was informed. This also ties into why PTSD for MST survivors is so traumatic.  The assaults themselves are very traumatic, personal, and shameful.  We wouldn’t see nearly as many PTSD claims as we do if it wasn’t for the continued abuse, judgement, and mistreatment by those in our Chain of Command.  Instead, I would have still been serving my country while getting the help I needed to be the best soldier I could be.

‘Fell through the cracks’: Could Longview soldier’s death have been avoided?

Coast Guard Investigative Service blames victim for her rape.

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

As an E3 in Alameda (5 years ago), I was assaulted at a party. I was drinking, and the person who assaulted me managed to have me leave the party with him- several friends saw me leave and did nothing to stop me- and I ended up in his apartment. I remember vaguely being on this guy’s floor with my pants off. I graduated from a well known college before joining, so its not like I had never had a drink with the opposite sex before. I’ve fallen asleep on fraternity house couches and was never treated with anything but respect, because I am a sister not a piece of meat. The next day I reported it to my supervisor (completely unaware of the restricted and unrestricted reporting guidelines) and he launched a CGIS investigation. During the investigation I was told that it was my fault because I was drinking, and that I welcomed it because I had previously told someone that I thought the guy was cute. This incident cost me my relationship, friendships, and eventually my credibility. I’m still in, but I can’t shake the anger and disgust at this organization for the way rape survivors are treated. CGIS is a joke, the reporting requirements are a joke. The only person who helped me was the Victim Advocate. What’s amazing is I had no follow up medical care, no counseling, nothing. I only hope I can save other females from experiencing this as well.

Coast Guard recruit sexually abused at basic training; wants changes.

“These recruits are entrusted to my care. I will train them to the best of my ability. I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Coast Guard men and women. I will demand of them, and demonstrate by my own example, the highest standards of personal conduct, morality, and professional skill.” – Coast Guard Company Commander Creed

I never truly understood the meaning of the word hopeless until I went to Cape May. Some may judge me based on the fact that I didn’t come forward with my story sooner. That’s fine. I don’t expect those who haven’t been there to understand. When you are in a world where you have it drilled into your head that everyone is out to get you, it’s not quite so simple. When you see the chaplain and the person you fear harm from chatting and being friendly, there’s hopelessness. When you are told that dialing 9-1-1 rings you into the base fire department, where he no doubt has friends, there’s hopelessness. When your aggressor teaches your sexual harassment class and tells you, “if you ever gives you trouble, come to me”, there’s hopelessness. I had a duty to speak. And for a time I remained silent.

When I was in Coast Guard Boot Camp, myself and another shipmate (who like me was a 5’3″ blonde) were subjected to 8 weeks of sexual harassment and verbal abuse at the hands of our Company Commander Carlos Resendez. Petty Officer Resendez would require us to clean his office at night after everyone else had gone to bed and would proceeded to make sexual comments and be inappropriate (i.e. walking up behind me, just shy of having his body touching mine). It was horrific and I was terrified of what he was going to do the entire time, but because of our fear we remained silent. We just wanted to move on our new units and forget what we had left behind. I consider that decision to be the biggest mistake of my life.

In 2010, I had honorably gotten out of the Coast Guard and was trying to move on with my civilian life. That’s when I received the call from my shipmate that had gone through boot camp with and it stopped my heart… “You’re not going to believe this – I met a little blonde girl at my new unit today… Can you guess what happened?” Of course I knew and I immediately felt my heart drop. As it turns out, she had met the female at her unit and asked the typical, “What company were you in? Who were your Company Commanders?” questions common of all junior enlisted Coasties. The conversation quickly brought forth details that were all too familiar. We were not the only ones.

After talking at length, we decided it was time to take a stand. I would make a call to CGIS and report what had happened. I did so, while the other female reported to their local office. It was a lengthy process and it took a great deal of time to finally meet with investigators in person. As the investigation revealed, we were not the only victims. PO Resendez , emboldened and feeling that he would not get caught in his actions after his experience with us had continued to terrorize his recruits In one of his recruit companies after ours, he chose yet another 5’3 blonde, but this time he did not stop with verbal harassment. Given a direct order to comply, my shipmate was sexually assaulted several times during her boot camp experience. She, like us, feared what would happen if she spoke out. This victim, in addition to the female that my boot camp shipmate had met made a total of four known victims.

Last month, September 26th, Resendez pled guilty to Cruelty & Maltreatment and Adultery. He was sentenced to a maximum allowable 12 months confinement, Bad Conduct Discharge, and reduction in rank to an E1. While we were elated that the judge had came down on him with the maximum punishment, it was bitterly disappointing to see that he was not charged with the most heinous crime that he had committed – rape. Due to a flaw in the UCMJ, he could not be tried for rape, because of the fact she was not “forced”. In the UCMJ a direct order (even in a boot camp setting where there is no out whatsoever) is not considered as rape… We must fix the broken way in which our military members are treated in cases that involve sexual assault.

When you are a member of the military, you completely give your voice over to the government and are totally at their mercy to take care of you and ensure that justice is received. In this case, because of a glitch in the system, the perpetrator got off with a much lesser charge than he deserved. I am now attempting to carry this torch and have started a petition to Congress regarding this matter (http://www.change.org/petitions/congress-of-the-united-states-of-america-revision-of-article-120-in-the-uniform-code-of-military-justice ).

 

U.S Marine raped

H, United States Marine Corps

While serving in the USMC, I was raped by a Corpsman attached to our unit. I was on liberty one night with my mod-mate, and had seen the Corpsman at the bar. I had a few beers (I honestly, was NOT drunk…I knew very well what happened every moment that night!) We went back to our barracks rooms that night, and I got an unwanted visitor at my door.

I cannot count how many times I said “NO” or “STOP” or “PLEASE” that night. No one heard me. I reported it the next evening to my Chain of Command and the investigation was launched from there. The investigation went from June to January.

During these months, I was heavily alienated by my peers and my NCO’s. I was made fun of. I was referred to as derrogatory names by EVERYONE. I was severely depressed. My Sergeant Major even told me to my face that it was MY FAULT because I did not have a father in my life growing up, and that I need to learn how to PRESENT myself in front of men, because “I must have” given him a reason to think that I wanted it.

He was wrong. MY Marine Corps did not stand by me. Then shunned me, when I needed them the most. I selflessly gave myself to my country, and my country did not stand by me in return. My heart was broken. When all was said and done, the official investigation done by NCIS was “unfounded” because there was not a rape kit done (as I did not know I needed to go to the hospital to do so), and I did not have a roommate so there were no witnesses. Only his story and my story. Period. If it weren’t for my UVA (uniformed victim’s advocate) & civilian led support group that I faithfully attended weekly for over a year..I would still consider myself a victim. I am not. I AM A SURVIVOR!