Nobody to turn to.

Wronged Recruit, United States Army
I had loved hanging out at the recruiting station, chatting with my recruiter, SFC H. He seemed like a nice guy. Always willing to come pick me up across town since I didn’t have a car, let me use his computer since I didn’t have internet, answer any question I may have even if it wasn’t military related. It took me 6 months from when I first walked in that door to when I swore in. SFC H was in the process of leaving for deployment with his wife and kids. I swore in June 27, 2012. A week or so later, SFC H wanted to take me out to dinner to celebrate. He said he took all his recruits out. I agreed. We went to a pizza place and chatted for a while.

We talked about the online training I had to complete and that I didn’t have internet. He offered to let me come back to his hotel room and use his computer. I was hesitant. He insisted, saying it was for military business/training. I was still hesitant, but agreed. We did most of my training, then chatted about basic and AIT for a while. He started talking about how I needed to “get my lovin done before I went.” Then he offered to help me with that. I declined and said I had to leave. He reminded me that he had the power to get my contract cut. He made me sleep with him. He told me not to tell anyone.

When I got to basic, we had our SHARP training. I finally broke down and told our liaison. She took me straight to the 1SG, who had me go to CID. They took my statement and said they would be in touch. I received one call via my CO during basic from CID. My Drill Sgts told me to get over it and that I should be fine with them running their hands from hips to ankles during shake downs after the range, etc. I wasn’t. The DS constantly singled me out and belittled me for having those issues. I ended up being discharged after my “battles” told me I was lying and to kill myself to save them the trouble.

I received a couple emails and one or two phone calls from CID after that. Then an email stating that they had closed the case with no repercussions for SFC H. I was crushed. Not only was my trust in my NCOs shattered, but my trust in my battle buddies and the UCMJ. JAG didn’t do anything. Anytime I tried to talk to somebody about it, I was blown off. The VA isn’t much help, helplines aren’t much help, I’ve even tried civilian sources. The second I mention military, they stop paying attention. I have constant nightmares about him coming after me. I am so jumpy it’s now a joke and game to my coworkers to see me jump out of my skin when they sneak up behind me. I can’t sleep, I eat so much I’ve gained over 50 lbs since basic. I’m at a complete loss as to what to do anymore. It’s a nightly battle convincing myself that suck-starting my pistol won’t solve my problems. I feel so alone.

U.S Soldier raped at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Anonymous, United States Army

I am stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, originally from New Jersey. I never said anything  about this because I was embarrassed because I broke down and took a plea deal where he plead guilty to adultery.

He was supposed to receive a letter of reprimand, to be confined for 45 days, to undergo 45 days of hard labor, to be restricted for 45 days, and to be reduced in rank to E-3. ..well I JUST now got an email from the Department of the Navy stating he was administratively discharged on 12 April 2013. And that “although I am approving this sentence, no hard labor without confinement or period of restriction was initiated prior to administrative separation” …an email 6 months after the fact, with a letter that was dated 26 April, basically saying “Oh, I’m sorry, he only did half of his punishment.”Which was an already reduced punishment in my opinion for what I’ve gone through because of him! ..I’m not sure what you can do with this information, but I figure someone should hear this besides the people he that have done NOTHING for me. I HOPE YOU CAN USE THIS STORY FOR SOMETHING GOOD!

On September 9, 2011 I lost all my trust in the military. That’s the night I decided to go out with someone I met through work, HM2, USN. I had worked with HM2 for a few weeks when he asked me to go with him and a few other co-workers to celebrate his last weekend in Bethesda. I agreed to this because I was under the impression it was going to be a group gathering. I wrote my phone number down on a piece of paper for him to contact me with the details, I was only told it was going to be a Friday night. He never contacted me but instead just showed up to my place of duty and offered to give me a ride to Downtown DC where we were to meet the others. No one else ended up showing up but I stayed and we danced at a few different clubs.

That night ended in a hotel room that I do not remember getting to. Between that moment and the next morning, I have hazy, intermittent memories of him having sex with me. The next morning I tried to forget it ever happened, I wanted to forget I ever met him. But that is when he continuously placed phone calls to my place of duty and even went as far as to drive 45 minutes out of his way to, I believe, intimidate me. The last phone call he placed is when I was blindsided with the information that this person is married, has three children, and has herpes. I wanted this to all go away, to forget it ever happened, but he chose to, once again, do the wrong thing.

I feel betrayed in two ways: I feel betrayed as a woman and I feel betrayed by the Navy as a soldier. I am 23 years old, hardworking, intelligent, and caring. I would never hurt someone on purpose. I would never maliciously attack, violate, or intimidate someone. Joining the Army is the only thing that has taken me away from home. I feel like some of my innocence was lost. The fact that I cannot remember getting to the hotel room has made me very depressed and has left me crippled with anxiety. Most of the anxiety stems from the fact that I cannot remember what happened, playing it back in my mind, wondering if just would have done “this” or “that”…maybe he wouldn’t have done this to me.

Sometimes I wake up out of my sleep, panicking, and lock myself in the bathroom until I can calm myself down. Other times I dream that I am trying to scream for help, but no noise comes out of my mouth. I feel so disgusting and horrible. This person also put me at risk of contracting an incurable disease. Thankfully, I have tested negative for herpes. During the time all of this happened I was taking two college classes. I received my first “D” and second “C” in my academic career. My goal in September 2011 was to get my Bachelor’s degree in Medical Imaging by January 2013. I also had specific goals to reach professionally, but I have yet to get that motivation back.

As a soldier, we are taught that being a Non-Commissioned Officer is an honor and a privilege bestowed upon those who earn it. That it’s a position held by someone who has not only proven themselves as a soldier, but as a leader. An NCO swears to “at all times conduct one’s self so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the military service, and their country” and to “never compromise their integrity”…but HM2 chose to bring shame to the military and himself. An NCO is something that I whole-heartedly aspired to be before this happened; now, I struggle with my motivation to continue to reach my goals and I no longer want to re-enlist and be a career soldier. This has affected not only me but my work place at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Radiology Department.

This “NCO” – HM2 – showed up to the Radiology department multiple times after he PCS’d down to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. The first two times I didn’t say anything. Then he called. And after I found out he was married he showed up again after calling a few times. All of this calling and showing up to work made me nervous and not a productive member of the team. And the phone calls took time that none of us had because we are a very busy department. The last time he showed up to work was a Friday, which is a flight night for us, we are busy. When I told a co-worker to ask him to leave he didn’t leave. So I waited about 15 minutes and he was still there. That’s when my co-worker got my Army NCO, SGT and I told him what happened and that HM2 needed to leave.

At that point three productive members to the Radiology team, on one of the busiest nights, were unavailable because HM2 would not leave. Not only were we unavailable for a portion of the night, I had to leave for the remainder of the shift because SGT told me to leave and go to a friend’s house to be safe. I was grilled and interrogated as if I had been the one who had done wrong, then I was given the run-around as to whom my counsel was and what, if any, progress was being made with this case. I can’t help but feel this is a systematic process that weeds out the faint of heart and tries to scare victims of assault into thinking that there isn’t a chance in hell that justice will be brought forth and they will be protected.

I gave my blessing for this plea deal because after 16 months, I cannot endure anymore. I have been treated like a criminal. I was re-victimized by Navy JAG officers who berated me for wanting to get an order of protection from this person who had already shown behavior that would warrant one. I would not have been put in this situation and treated the way I have been for the past 16 months had it not been for HM2’s actions the night of September 9, 2011 and thereafter with him showing up to work.

 

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

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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.