rape

Raped and retaliated against in the U.S Navy.

Anonymous, United States Navy

It took a lot of courage to come forward and report I had been sexually assaulted by my army supervisor (e-7) and his Afghan colleague who both worked for the 3star Army command general.

I thought there would be an investigation and that I would be allowed to continue doing my job, especially with other women in my same shop coming forward and reporting similar actions from the same supervisor around the same time as me. I turned down his advances and he said, “that’s okay because even if you’re not into me, I have an associate who is also interested in you for sex.” But my words fell on deaf ears when my supervisor once again cornered and attacked me at work.

I did not make it back to my barracks room the same night without being forcibly raped by his associate, and one of the guys at the next base they moved me to joked in front of my new co-workers (my third day there after my navy e-9 called ahead and warned the new command I had been raped and was somehow now “their problem” to be “dealt with”) that he would be the next to rape me (after I learned I would have to do detainee ops and sort through decapitated body parts instead of my job as an IT as punishment for coming forward while the three star covered up the investigation because it was an election year and spearheaded 3 years of retaliation and mistreatment that cost me my career and barred me from getting accurate, ethical medical care, especially after I reported HIPAA violation at the next place I was transferred). Being assaulted was bad enough.

I did not officially enter hell until I spoke up about it and the military commands did everything in their power to distract me, discredit me, demoralize me, and destroy my once promising career as they railroaded me out of the service for political reasons.

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.

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.

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.

Air Force sexual abuse trial gets underway

Last night on NBC Nightly News Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Air Force rape survivor and My Duty to Speak and Military Rape Crisis Center staff member Jennifer Norris discusses the rape and sexual abuse epidemic at Lackland Air Force Base. Watch the video here: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/48202756#48178483

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