On February 15, a group of 16 service members and veterans filed a lawsuit against the United States military demanding changes in the way that sexual assault is being dealt with in the ranks.
Kori Cioca reported that the Coast Guard told her that if she pressed forward with reporting the sex as a rape, she would be court-martialed for lying. She said the man pleaded guilty only to hitting her and his punishment was a minor loss of pay and being forced to stay on the base for 30 days.
“You think of a Coast Guardsman, you think of somebody in the military holding themselves at a certain level,” Cioca said. “When somebody walks up to you and shakes your hand and says, ‘Thank you for your service,’ little do they know they’re shaking the hand of a man who rapes and beats women in the military. “
Panayiota Bertzikis says she was raped by a Coast Guard shipmate while out on a hike with him in Burlington, Vt. Bertzikis complained to her commanding officer, but she said authorities did not take substantial steps to investigate the matter. Instead, she said, they forced her to live on the same floor as the man she had accused and tolerated others calling her a “liar” and “whore.”
However the rape is only the beginning of abuse that survivors often face. Panayiota Bertzikis said: “The problem of rape in the military is not only service members getting raped, but it’s the entire way that the military as a whole is dealing with it…..From survivors having to be involuntarily discharged from service, the constant verbal abuse, once a survivor does come forward your entire unit is known to turn their back on you. The entire culture needs to be changed.”
Please call your Representatives TODAY demanding better protecting for service members who been sexually assaulted or raped:
We are a group of survivors of Military Sexual Trauma and the families of the fallen victims of Military Sexual Trauma. We have been denied the right to serve without being raped and sexually harassed. The most absurdly nominal attention has been pad to this by military leaders and we are writing to ask for congressional oversight of the military.
Sexual perpetrators usually continue to collect a paycheck and advance while victims are quickly discharged with diagnosis’ of depression, adaptation disorder due to rape, cyclothymia, bipolar II, and personality disorder. This is an injustice that is cultivated by rape culture.
We ask that legislative attention is given to this problem from this time until the problem is resolved.
Furthermore, we ask that the survivors and the families of the fallen are heard by lawmakers on this matter. We hope that the first place that lawmakers stop to learn more about this matter is the website My Duty to Speak, http://mydutytospeak.com/.
My Duty to Speak is a journal of our stories in our words. For many survivors, this is the first time that we have been heard, believed, and supported. We would like to add this 112th Congress to the list of people that hear our stories.
We urge our senators and representatives not to stop with our stories. Please get to know the staff and volunteers at the Military Rape Crisis Center in Cambridge Massachusetts. We began in the Boston barracks room room of our founder Panayiota Bertzikis. After she was raped and illegally imprisoned while a Station Burlington Coast Guard Boatswain Mate investigated the allegations, Panayiota began a blog that brought out other service members in need of support.
Those desperate quests for understanding blossomed into a formidable force of service that supports military sexual trauma survivors in need of crisis counseling and advocacy.
We seek legislative change and public awareness. Please support us and please support funding and policy change on this matter.
MAKE THE CALL TODAY