Coast Guard Petty Officer Federico Sanchez re-victimized rape survivor

HS2 Federico Sanchez was on officer of the day duty when he thought it would be funny to further victimize a rape survivor. According to the rape survivor she was invited on base for a meeting, followed all necessary steps including being on an approved guest list and provided a valid government ID. After realizing that the woman invited on base was a rape survivors that his friends/shipmates helped cover up her rape he did all in his power to further victimize her.
Rape survivors in the Coast Guard often don’t just have one victim-blaming act committed against them. It is often dozens of small act of abuse that do have life long psychological consequences for the rape survivor. It also builds an environment of intimidation that might defer others from reporting a rape.

This blame-the-victim culture at Coast Guard Base Boston needs to stop before more members of the U.S Coast Guard are punished for reporting a rape. All these small acts of making the victim be punished for reporting a rape do add up to a culture of intimidation.

Calls to HS2 Federico Sanchez were never returned. Electronic communications from Active Duty coasties that witness to the event confirm that forbidding the rape survivor to attend a meeting that she was invited to was because she is a rape survivor.

Our Coast Guardsmen and women deserve better. Time to fix the Coast Guard.

 

written by M.O

Soldier raped after basic training.

Monica, United States Army

I am an MST survivor. I went into the Army because I thought it would be cool to wear a uniform and serve my country. Little did I know what would happen after Basic Training, in Ft Lee, Virginia. I had an off post weekend. My battle buddy and I went to a hotel with a bunch of other battle buddies and hung out for the night. I had gotten my own room also. My battle buddies husband was coming to meet her at the hotel. I was single and not looking for a guy. My battle buddy thought it would be cute to hook me and her husband’s friend (also in the Army) up.

We all four went out to dinner at Applebees Restaurant. Everyone was drinking except me. We all finished eating dinner. We went back to the hotel. I was just hanging out with my battle buddy and her husband. She then wanted “alone personal time” with her husband, so I went in my room to hangout. My battle buddy’s, husband’s battle buddy was also just hanging out. He asked me if we could go into my room to just watch TV while they were doing “their” thing.

We were just sitting on the bed watching Law and Order SVU. He had had a couple beers at Applebees, then proceeded to have several more in my room. I didn’t care as long as I didn’t have to drink any. He started to get belligerent. He got on the bed and started touching me. He put his hand on my breasts and started squeezing them. He was really getting excited. He started to make noises, kiss my neck. I felt really uncomfortable. He told me I liked it and that this was normal. He called it fore-play. I was completely disgusted. He then said he had to pee. I was happy because he finally got off of me. About 3 minutes later he came out of the bathroom….butt naked! I was a virgin at the time, so I was totally shocked. He jumped on the bed started to take off my shirt, I got really angry and started yelling NO!!! He acted like he wasn’t listening to me. He then told me to take off my shirt otherwise he would do it for me. So I did what he said (by this time he was getting angry that I wasn’t cooperating). I was getting scared cuz he started to yell. I fear when people yell at me or around me. I started to cry because I was scared. I didn’t know what to do except tell him no. I didn’t want to have sex. He still wasn’t listening. He told me to take off my jeans and underwear. I was starting to shake and cry even more. He then pinned me to the bed with his arms and shoved his penis in to my vagina. I screamed like there was no tomorrow. He was totally having a good time. I was so angry, I didn’t know what to do. It went on for a while that I started to feel numb, I completely disassociated. I didn’t know what else he was doing. I then came to when he was done. He walked back into the bathroom, got dressed and said this was fun, and walked out of my hotel room. I was lying there completely naked and traumatized. I felt so violated!! I then threw my clothes back on, left and took a cab back to my barracks. I didn’t care if I had paid for the hotel room for the night, I booked it outta there. I got back to my barracks.

I then went immediately to my drill sergeant, and told him what happened. He looked at me like I was stupid. He started to ask me questions of what happened. I didn’t know what to tell him. He was a male. I was so scared. He was in authority of me so I had to tell him I was raped in a hotel. He then got on the phone and called SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) and told them that he had a private who claimed she was raped. A man from the team came out and talked to me. SART wanted me to go with them to the hospital in their car. No way was I going. I was not about to put myself in a vehicle with a man to go to the hospital. I refused treatment because of that. He had me sign a bunch of papers and went on his way.

I went to the barracks and took the longest shower of my life. In the middle of the night I started to have really bad cramps, I hurt so bad down there. I couldn’t sleep. I then had to wake up at 0400 to go do pt. I told them I couldn’t run, I wasn’t feeling well. I got yelled at for this. I then ended up going to sick hall and telling them about my pain and that I needed help. Once again, they looked at me like I was just being over dramatic and send me on my way. I was so angry that no one would listen. After my rape I started to have a really hard time, emotionally. I couldn’t focus, I was getting angry and yelling at my drill sergeants and other soldiers. My drill sergeant told me to go to CMHS (Community Mental Health System) to get evaluated! They thought I was crazy. I ended up talking to a psychologist and telling them what happened. Within a couple weeks, I was getting my papers to be discharged from the Army. They said I was unfit to be a soldier and that I was useless. I wasn’t allowed to deploy and not allowed to carry a weapon. They treated me like I had a psychical and mental handicap. I got on the plane home and found myself in homeless shelters, jobless and completely lost in this world. I was very angry, I started having more outbursts and completely shutting down. I wanted to kill myself. I felt like a reject, a nobody.

I went into the Army to serve my country and this is how I got treated. I had no goal in life, no family who accepted me. My family even blamed me for my rape. I ended up getting into a shelter that helped veterans and really cared about us. At the time I didn’t even think I was a veteran, I thought you had to do like 20 years and retire to be considered a veteran. Long story short, I got into my own apartment with the help of an uh-mazing social worker. I received a 100% service connected disability from the VA. I have a service dog, substantial amount of income each month, I’m receiving mental health assistance with the VA. Overall I would say that I am doing better than I was when I left the Army. I still have my emotional and mental struggles but I have so many MST sisters and professional help to assist me in my recovery that things are going to be ok. I really want to help other MST survivors get well, once I am well. I think it would help with my healing process.

Christopher Lagan, United States Coast Guard further abuses rape survivor

After posting The Coast Guard’s Response to talking about Sexual Assault  We were forwarded this blog posting from the Officer Coast Guard blog at uscg.mil. I don’t think much explaining needs to be made. Below is a screenshot regarding a comment made on the Official Coast Guard blog in reference to Veterans’ Day. A Coast Guard rape survivor said that she’ll proudly be representing Coast Guard Veterans which was a huge accomplishment for her because being raped and like many survivors forced out of service for reporting a rape she had a difficult time coming to terms on calling herself a Veteran. As a result Christopher Lagan dismissed her pride for the service by calling her comments “an attack on the service”.

A Military Rape Crisis Center study estimates that 92% of all rape survivors are forced out of service. The United States Coast Guard continues to fall behind the other 4 military branches in how sexual assault cases are handled.

We believe that she sure is a Veteran. Thank you for your service.

written by M.O

Jennifer Norris speaks at the National Press Club

Jennifer Norris, Maine Director of the Military Rape Crisis Center speech at a recent press conference hosted by Protect Our Defenders. Jennifer was  in Washington DC with other sexual assault survivors of the military asking elected Congressional leaders to conduct a full investigation on how the DoD is addressing rape and sexual assault in the military.

Coast Guard’s response to sexual violence.

Anyone that ever attempted to work with the United States Coast Guard came upon these apathetic response from Coast Guard members. We hope to start the conversation so we can eliminate sexual violence in the United States Coast Guard.


Men are survivors too. Male soldier writes about surviving female-on-male rape.

Richard, United States Army

When you think of a Predator or Military Sexual Trauma (MST) you think women being raped by men. When you think of Male who has Military Sexual Trauma you think male on male rape. I am a Survivor I have Military Sexual Trauma (MST) PTST & no male has ever touched me.

I was an Active Duty Liaison during this time period. It was my supervisor who was a female “Civilian Employee” during the week and during the weekends she was the First Sergeant. She was in a position as a civilian that she used her higher rank & position to get what she wanted. Then the threats came in… but I had to report it after it took the best of me. Once I reported it to the military they didn’t remove her or change her position. If the role was reversed I as a male would have been moved that day no questions asked. But she got to stay while they investigated it.

I still remember it like it was yesterday, step by step. I want to stop thinking and dreaming about it but it is hard when the person who violated you works at the Dallas VA Hospital where I go for medical care and have been since 2007. I had her as a supervisor for another year and thoughts of suicide was in my head every time I came to work. She would harass and embarrassed me in from of my peers. My doctor put me on 2mg bars of Xanax, 280 pills a month. Then I became an addicted to them. Today I still have to take something for my anxiety; because I see her every time I go to the Dallas VA Hospital for medical appointments.

When I came off active duty I didn’t leave my house for over two years which means no medication for my injuries and Military Sexual Trauma or my Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was too scared to go to the Dallas VA to get treatment because I found out that she worked there. Yes, it has been over ten years and it still has a big impact on my life today. I was a broken down soldier and didn’t know what I was going to do or why I was still living. Today I still cannot sleep, have anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, and broken relationship with my fiancée who I had dated over five years. I became a work alcoholic and buried myself in my work. I felt ashamed like I did something wrong.

When I reported it not more than five minutes I received a phone call from both of our supervisor who started screaming at me as loud as she could over the phone. She kept telling me I was a lair and why would I do this to her. This went on for over 30 minutes I broken down over the phone & told her that I was telling the truth but she didn’t believe me. Once I got off the phone I went and told the head person in charge of the hold battalion during the week days. She was also my First Sergeant on the weekends which means she was using her military rank as in uniform during the weekends and during the week days she was in civilian position. She was what they called dual status reservist and civilian personnel and she was a predator. I had never in my life taken pills.

I was the Division Master Fitness Trainer. I was in excellent shape before I was transferred to this new unit because our other unit was deactivated. She was on me my first day there and I told her I was not interested. I kept my personal life away from my professional life separate. She would not take no for an answer and I didn’t know anyone in this unit or who I could trust or who would believe me. I mean come on a woman wants a man…most men would had jumped on it. That is what all the men kept telling me.

I had a perfect career and was on fast track up to this point. I was an E5 with 4 MSMs awards which this is unheard of in the military. When you hear of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) PTSD remember it’s not only females, or male on male rape. Women are part of this mess too and they will use their rank and position to get what they want. I will never forget the words she used after she was finished; I always get what I want. Of course, the much more important question here isn’t medical; it’s criminal. Can a woman rape a man? Yes. If someone does not agree to have sex with another and a sexual act is forced upon them, which is called rape. According to other statistics, at least 27 percent of men serving in the military are estimated to have suffered what psychologists call “military sexual trauma” which is either sexual assault, or repeated harassment and threatened assault.

I have been asking for Military Sexual Trauma MST treatment for male soldiers but they keep telling me I don’t qualified because mine was a female, not a male on male rape. There are only six programs in the USA for men who have been raped, SIX!!! I do not believe I would get any support for several years from the Dallas VA Hospital but they keep telling me do this first or take these pills. I have been given so many pills to take that I almost killed myself several times. This letter is in no disrespect to my fellow sister-in-arms back then and today, but I felt that my story needed to be told because I know it is still going on today and there are still women predators out there.

Finally, the act of persecuting the victim is dishonorable, and morally repugnant. This didn’t happen to me but I was threatened with it by her. It is true that the United States demands much of its service personnel. While military service is both an honor and a duty, and carries with it substantial risk to life and limb, the risk of sexual assault and abuse is one risk that no service member should fear. But with a third of all women and possibly a quarter of the men experiencing some type of sexual abuse, or trauma, it is clear that changes have to be made.

Richard and my Service Dog Military Millie

Is rape the new DADT? It sure is in the Coast Guard

repost from feministing.com

Melissa, United States Air Force

I am writing regarding an incident on the Open Guard USCG Facebook group page on July 26, 2012. A Coast Guard reserve member within the LGB community felt safe enough with Open Guard USCG to come out as a rape survivor. She expressed how she felt her rape was mishandled because of her sexual orientation. What followed was several other women both Active Duty and Veterans stated that they too been victims of sexual violence while serving in the US Coast Guard. The thread became an educational, supportive and healing medium for many within the group. Sadly it was all put to an end after Mark Dietrich, a Coast Guard officer and a moderator for Open Guard USCG, felt that suffering from rape because of one’s sexual orientation is “off topic”.

A Coast Guard member responded by saying, “Thank again for reminding me that I have no place in the Coast Guard even in the LGBT Open Guard” and a Coast Guard veteran also responded by saying, “I thought this group was to support each other as shipmates to improve the Coast Guard for future generations?” These two comments were determined to be criticizing the Coast Guard and negative so therefore every woman that reported that they been sexually abused because of her sexual orientation was barred from participating in Open Guard USCG. This is super concerning, particularly coming from a gay-oriented group that not too long ago had suffered the same oppression that rape survivors today are suffering: to keep it to your self.  The Military Rape Crisis Center a nationwide advocacy and support group for Military Sexual Assault survivors estimates that 92% of all that report a sex crime in the Coast Guard are kicked out of service. Rape has become the new DADT.

While we have rightfully earned our rights to celebrate our accomplishments for repealing DADT, the fight is not over. We have to continue working on getting equality until all service members feel safe to open up to who they truly are. Sadly, homophobia is still very present in the United States Coast Guard and these Coast Guard members are at times using sexual violence as their weapon of choice to promote their hateful agenda. While the United States Coast Guard is not required like the four other branches of service to release their sexual assault data, the Military Rape Crisis Center reports that a disproportion numbers of Coast Guard Active Duty and Reserve members are seeking services through them. Some of these survivors are members of the LGB community that feel that their sexual orientation were the reason they have been victimized or that the investigation focus was primarily on their sexual orientation and not the felony that took place.

I am a survivor of sexual assault while serving in the United States Armed Forces. My rapist, an O-6, knew that he was able to get away with raping me because I am a lesbian. He was right. He was never prosecuted despite enough forensic evidence that shows a rape has been committed. Corrective rape in his eyes was the right thing to do for his God. He saw nothing wrong with what he did. He is still serving. I lost my very promising career.

As a member of several Active Duty, Veterans and civilians group for the LGBTQIA community, Open Guard USCG is the only group that I am aware of that is not actively working to eliminate sexual violence within members of this community. While I do believe that Open Guard USCG or a similar organization might be viewed as helpful to connect LGB members service wide Open Guard USCG’s blatant backwardness, hypocrisy and systemic silent the victim rape culture is something that cannot be overlooked. I welcome an open dialogue on this important issue.

Until Open Guard USCG is open to diversity and is inclusive of all members of the United States Coast Guard, including those that been victims of sexual assault or rape, I recommend that members of the United States Coast Guard think twice before associating themselves with Open Guard and it board members. I also request the leadership within the United States Coast Guard stop the Coast Guard’s affiliation with the group, including listing them as a resource on uscg.mil diversity page, until Open Guard is open to discuss the sexual assault and rape epidemic in the United States Coast Guard and how it affects members of the LGB community.

Open Guard’s mission statements states: “Open Guard is a Coast Guard centric support group for gay, lesbian and bisexual Coast Guard members, active duty and retired, and their families and friends” and I believe that this should include those that feel that they have been retaliated by use of sexual violence for coming out.

Resources for military rape survivors:

Military Rape Crisis Center

RAINN

Protect our Defenders

Coast Guard Lieutenant call women in the Coast Guard “skanky” and feels that rape survivors do not deserve an investigation.

Donna Moore, United States Coast Guard family member

I work as a rape crisis counselor at a University with a large population of students that are also veterans. Currently a third of my caseload are veterans with military sexual trauma that are adjusting to life as students and as rape victims. My military background includes two brothers that joined the Coast Guard. My older brother is an alumnus of the Coast Guard Academy and currently a Coast Guard Lieutenant. My younger brother left the Coast Guard several years ago after 4 years as an enlisted personnel. He is now a police officer.

I printed out some of the Coast Guard stories on this page and showed them to my brothers. I was taken aback by how little they cared and even made excuses for the rapists.  My younger brother said that there are two sides to every story and that we were only getting one side. I disagree. I feel that rape is black and white. You either raped somebody or you didn’t. There isn’t that gray area where one might think it is rape and one might not.  My older brother told me that some women in the Coast Guard are skanky and put themselves in situations that are going to get them raped. He admitted that there had been numerous women under his command that were too skanky that he wouldn’t waste CGI money or resources to investigate their rape claims and that it is easier to approve their separation from service.  I was in shock when I heard all of this.  I have a third brother who is not part of the Coast Guard that felt sympathetic to the Coast Guard members posting their rape stories on here.

I like to think that our parents raised us to respect all people including women. I do not know where their attitudes against women that are raped come from. I am ashamed by what they said.

 I want to thank Panayiota Bertzikis for starting this blog. I think it speaks highly of her to put everything on the line to help her shipmates regain their voice. My brothers and all in the Coast Guard need to follow Panayiota’s leadership to eliminate rape in the Coast Guard. I have referred all of my veteran students to this blog and used some of the stories as learning tools for my colleagues that might not be familiar with military sexual trauma. It is never the victim’s fault for being raped.

Coast Guardsman raped, ignored.

Amanda, United States Coast Guard

March 15, 2012 I was awaken by a Coast Guard Ensign that had one hand over my mouth and one hand playing with my clitoris. I could not scream and I struggled to get away from him hitting my head on the top rack. After what seemed like forever he left but not before telling me that I should report it. I reported it anyway and went up my chain but not one person felt that I was acting like a victim enough to investigate it. I went outside of my chain and called CGI and a Chaplin on my own. Neither returned my phone calls. Now I am fighting an admin. discharge. What should I do?