Sec. Panetta estimates 19,000 rapes occurring EACH YEAR in the U.S military–that is about two rapes per hour. Panayiota Bertzikis, Executive Director of the Military Rape Crisis Center and U.S. Coast Guard rape survivor. Photo Credit: Sand Angel Media
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?
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.
“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 ).
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!
I am not doing well. Ever since the allegations about Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter sexually assaulting and raping a woman in 1984 was finally made public my emotions has been at an all time high. I checked myself into an intense residential program for rape survivors where everyday I had to talk about the monster that raped me and the monsters that covered up my rape, which includes Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter.
I am NOT Gen. Carter’s victim. I want to make that loud and clear. Who I am was a soldier that was raped while serving with the Massachusetts Army National Guard. I was a soldier that had to watch her rapist walk away scotch free. The man that raped me and almost killed me were treated as the victim and I was told that I was at fault for no reason other than because I am a woman and should not have been walking alone. You read that right, I am a woman and therefore because I took the risk of walking ALONE I was at fault for being raped. I was not out partying. I was not out drinking. I was simply walking alone-in uniform-when he grabbed me and raped me.
My victim advocate, SARC whatever you want to call her was career-oriented. As a result she cared more about pleasing the command, making the MANG look squeaky clean and problem less that she would step over anyone that might have any dirt on the Massachusetts National Guard, including me—I certainly had dirt on the Massachusetts National Guard—I knew of a soldier serving with MANG that is a rapist. As a result of her covering up rapes and making the MANG “look good” she was rewarded with the SARC of the year award.
She made me look crazy, my investigation magically “went missing” and she praised to all how Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter “cares so much about rape survivors. She alleged that Gen. Carter wants all at MANG to take rape seriously. MANG has a zero-tolerance policy. General Carter is making sexual assault prevention a priority!” Wait hold on, you mean the same Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter that just this week was forced into retirement because it have been found that there was probable cause that he abused his rank and power to sexually abuse a woman? Correct. Same guy.
While the National Guard knew of the allegations all along the SARC and others wanted to convince everyone that advocated for me and other sexual assault and rape survivor that Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter actually cares about rape survivor. Yep, exactly why my rape investigation was lost. Cared about rape survivors that you blame a woman for getting herself raped because she walked alone? Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter cared so much about rape and sexual assault survivors that he was forced into retirement for sexually assaulting a woman!
When the SARC deployed she was replaced by I believe a 1st Lt. What I knew most about her is at what intervals I should hand her a tissue as she used my time that was suppose to be used to help me with MY rape and get ME resources and help so she can vent about how she “just got married and her husband was deployed” boo ho sorry to hear that but remember me? I was the one that was raped and you are the SARC that should help me get resources. Well, she did was recommended a yoga group for COMBAT VETERANS-MOSTLY MEN aka male combat veteran just like my freaking rapist.
Of course she also let me know how Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter cared so much about rape survivor. Did you know that at one point the Massachusetts National Guard alleged that they had the best sexual assault prevention program in the ENTIRE NATION because Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter cared so much about women like me? That was until there was an outside investigation done on the Massachusetts National Guard that found that the 24-hour hotline listed on their website is actually not 24-hour and the emails that a survivor can email victim advocates were indeed false and made up. Fake email addresses given to survivors to report rape, the emails are later bounced back and never read. How many victims were not able to report a rape because the contact information on the official Massachusetts National Guard website was incorrect? The Massachusetts National Guard refuses to help any victim that was misguided or was not able to report an assault because contact information to the proper authorities were false. In case that did not make any sense to you let me reiterate. Massachusetts National Guard posted fake email addresses on their website telling victims if they need help to contact the fake email addresses! Victims had their emails bounced back to them unread and undeliverable.
My rapist has been promoted since he raped me. He is on his way to a prosperous career within the Massachusetts National Guard. The Massachusetts National Guard still claims to have the best sexual assault prevention and response program in the entire country.
I was forced out for reporting a rape. I had fought for years to be able to receive services at the VA. Only recently was I granted permission to go to the VA for my treatment for PTSD. Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter has been forced into retirement. He will be collecting $86,000+ a year of our taxes as a reward for his hard work in covering up sexual assaults and rapes; including his own.
S.K, United States Marine Corps
I reported to my first duty station in Hawaii and met an NCO from my unit. He invited me to a bbq to meet other marines from my unit and I accepted. I didn’t drink, so I was offered a soda.. 3/4th through the drink,I began to not feel good. I tried to go outside for air but could not walk. The NCO and 4 other marines forced me down the hall into a small room. I passed out and came to many times. All of the 5 men were raping me as I was unable to move or stop them. They kept me at the house from Friday through Sunday, beating, torturing, threatening to kill me.
Anonymous, United States Coast Guard
I am in desperate need for some help. I reported my rape and it went nowhere. I was told that there were not enough creditable evidence to bring this case to trial. They have separated the two of us and I am safe from him. My problem is since my allegations came back as not having enough creditable evidence to bring the case to trial I am being viewed as a liar. I am called a nut case and a liar every single day often by CWO and a Captain.
Yes, I made some mistakes that I am beating myself up for such as not going immediately to the hospital and waiting some time before reporting it. I was scared. According to the CWO and the Captain the reason why I took so long to report it was because I was making a plan to lie. I did NOT lie. I can’t stress that enough. After the rape my rapist told me that if I told anyone that he’ll kill me. It was not until I felt suicidal and that I no longer could keep it in that I finally told somebody. I did not expect the allegation to go anywhere when I did report it but I needed help and needed to get away from him. It went unrestricted because I told some friends that are also in the Coast Guard wanting their advice on what I should do and support to help me report it. Since I told people it automatically because unrestricted and they had to investigate it.
I requested some time off from my Chief so that I can attend a counseling session in town. He told me that he doesn’t know why I still go to counseling since it was determined that it was a false allegation. He forbid me time off to attend counseling.
I am an E-3. How can I stop the bullying from those much higher ranking than me? They are slandering my name, tearing me apart and everyone believes them over me because of their rank and position with the Coast Guard.
This is much worst than even the rape. Can someone offer me some advice?
DM, United States Air Force
I am currently NYANG AGR..(full time guard). The weekend of the end of April I went on a drinking and anti-depressants and Ambien binge. my life was flashing before my eyes and I needed it to end. I ended up as a non-voluntary admit on the Psych Unit of the Syrace NY VA Hospital. (they were wonderful)
I enlisted in the Air Force in 1977, I went to Chanute AFB for Avionics School. I was having some difficulty with the class, a SNCO in Training called me in to counsel me. After a get to know you conversation, he said it was a rough day, “how bout I get you some chow off base?” I gladly said yes. Fast forward..he offered a quid pro quo..he could get me assigned to another base immediately OJT, no Tech School. All I would need to do is provide him with oral sex. I was 18…from a single parent home, welfare, etc. I complied, after a couple of weeks I received orders for my base and new AFSC.
Move on to 1980, I was the first female on Diyarbakir AS Turkey. Had many problems there, and after much pleading with the Chaplain…got assigned to Incirlik AB Turkey. I worked mainly 3-11 shifts. This was during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and Turkey was under military rule. One evening on my way back to my dorm after my shift, I was jumped, pulled behind one of the huts and raped by a turkish soldier. I immediately walked to the base hospital and reported the rape. I was fairly well cared for at the hospital, they did what seemed like a rape kit, I spoke with Security Forces and they said they would take care of it. two months later, hearing nothing and having a really difficult time…
I spoke with the Doctor on duty, I was feeling really crappy. I was pregnant. I went to my First Sgt and broke down, he was extremely non-supportive. I should have known better than to walk alone, I culd have fought him off cause the Turks were small, was I sure that was what really happened? I demanded he speak with security forces to see where the investigation was going or I was going to file with the IG. About two weeks later I was offered a discharge due to pregnancy. I was so beaten, I felt so let down, that I accepted it.
Fast forward to 2008…I found my military stuff from back then including my health records. The pages from the rape exam were gone. I didn’t look at them when I was doing all my discharge paperwork. The past two years I have been battling depression and anxiety by myself. Self medicating with alcohol..finally spoke with my Primary Care Dr. and got sleeping pills and anti anxiety meds….four days of my life are gone, I have no recollection, but through counseling I cme to see what my problems have been, where my depression and behavior comes from. However, it has been so long, and added stressors at work…I am now just paralyzed. I’m still in the service but on admin duties, I don’t fit in, have no friends, just my husband..he has been fairly supportive but I have done many bizarre things over the years, that he is fairly numb too.
I will be 53 in a few weeks and I am just so exhausted. Thirty plus years, and I can’t recover. My substance abuse counselor thinks I have PTSD/MST..but there is no record of the assault..he put in into my records with the VA. But you know what? it really doesn’t matter. I don’t believe I will ever like myself, ever really trust anyone, ever feel whole….