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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:

Sample Script:

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.






  1. I survived forced sex (non-violent to start, I was overseas in a country under martial law, couldn’t go awol if I tried) and a very perverted attempt at murder-suicide by a superior officer. The events took place in the late 1970’s. I came back changed, began to rebuild my life, but an episode at work was similar enough to bring my PTSD roaring back. I never held a full time job for long after that.
    I tried the VA, they made it worse, much worse. Got kicked out of their own back-to-work program, but no disability. Homeless for years, treated like I’m the criminal, interrogated when I applied for VA disability. Will go on record if you need. Would like to start a log of offenders for possible corroboration of claims. VA will not cross-reference claims.
    Also think civilians should know these predators who are protected by the military and VA are going to go on preying when they retire or separate. They will not by registered. Why do we register civilian sex offenders? BECAUSE WE KNOW THEY GO ON COMMITTING CRIMES.
    It doesn’t stop or go away with time. I am not weak or lazy or stupid.

    1. Cecelia I just wanted to let you know that I am enduring the same thing with the VA now. I got fired from their VRA program because I kept having anxiety attacks. Whats worse, I was getting care in the VA hospital I worked in but still got fired. I have prayed for you and may God keep you

    2. You raise such good points, may I offer my own apology as an American for all that has happened to you. Thank you for your service and thank you for your thoughtful ideas, you are so right about registering the names of the offenders. We owe this protection to our daughters.

  2. I can see both points of view on this topic… public sex offender registries. I was sexual assaulted in the AF, which resulted in birth of a baby girl. To this day I have not told her she was/is the result of such a crime. she is now 20, still demanding to know who her biological father is. Having his info. NOT public protects her from locating him and being anywhere near him….as she is now at the age i was when he raped me. Granted, i think everyone should know he is a scum bag, in my case i am glad his information isnt public.

  3. I have a question, Evonne. Are you protecting her, or are you really protecting yourself? She deserves to know the truth and the truth will set you free. I love you. We are all here for you. Nothing in this life worth doing is easy, but trust me, you need this.

  4. I agree that she needs to know before she turns on you. Not telling a child/adult can be, in many cases, more traumatizing then not telling them. I speak from personal experience on this. I gave up my daughter when she was born and she contacted me to get information on family history etc and wanted to know who her father was. She didnt like the news at first, but has come to love me totally and she gets it.

  5. Cecelia when I read your post it gave me the strength for the first time since my ETS in 1984 to every put down just some of what happened to me. I just read over it and saw all of the errors I made, but I didnt even proof read it after I got done. I had just gotten off the phone talking to the Vet Crisis Line for over 3 hours, and they suggested that I come to this site, that it would help me because I would find other Vets that have, and are still being treated like me by the VA System. I had just gotten back from a appt with my social worker, who is trying to help me with my sexual dysfunction. While still at the VA Hospital I decided to stop by there DAV Office on site. The man there in charge was the Most insensitive Human Being that I have ever tried to get information from to make a claim concerning PTSD for MST. All I needed was my letter of denial and he claimed that I had never filed a claim hoping that I would just leave and It took a lot just for me to go there to request it, so I wouldnt give up. After he found the claim, he wouldnt print me a copy of the denial and I had enough. I told him that I Knew he had a Mother, but I didnt know if he had a wife, daughters, females cousins, or friends, but I pray to God that if they ever had a problem and had to deal with a man that they would never encounter anyone as insensitive as him. I didnt cry in front of him but I Sobbled all the way home. I was very ill with PTSD and Panic Attacks and whats now know as Fibromyalgia when I ETSed out of the service. I relived being raped for 6 years everytime I went to sleep, I have other medical problems and they are all stress related. I got a job after I out with the Federal Govt, so that I could carry over my military time towards my retirement. They told us for the first 90 days that they could fire us for whatever reason they wanted. I thought that I would be able to deal with anything after leaving the military, but when they said you cant be out sick within those 90 days, my heart was gripped with fear! I was having Panic Attacks and I didnt know what was happening to me. Everytime i went to a VA hospital they just kept telling me they didnt know what was wrong with me! Yes they did, they just didnt want to tell me about any of the medical conditions that I was suffering with that I came out of active duty with. I went to work one day and was sitting waiting to start in the breakroom and my supervisor came in and asked me if I was feeling any better that day, I looked up at him and I couldnt do anything but start laughing and crying at the same time! He told me to do not start your shift and to stay right there, he came back with someone to drive my car, and another person to fellow them to bring them back. By the time they got me to a civilian hospital, all I could remember then was that the Dr was coming and I couldnt remember my own name! I was afraid what was going to happened to me if I couldnt remember, that when the Dr came him I just was really messed up. I started telling him what had been going on with me and how long and Now I cant tell you what my name is! He placed his hand on my shoulder while I was still sobbing and said ” Its going to be alright, you are having Panic Attacks” he said that he would be right back and came back and gave me a shot. He explained to me what they were and the medication that he was putting me on and after all those years, 1 shot started calming down everything that was making me feel like I had lost It! I have 50% disability and they have fought all of this time to wear me out by keeping me stressed out whenever I say OK its time for me to deal with this. They have the nerve to say that I have PTSD but its not service connected. I could only work 9 1/2 years before I was forced into talking a disability retirement. Now I get the lettters that say that happened to you in your other job! No actually I was really messed up after the service but I was a single parent by then and I kept pushing myself because I was responsible for the well being of my daughter. I Almost killed myself, in pushing myself like that and my health is that of someone much older then me. I tell people all the time dont keep painful things to yourself because turning it inward equals stress and that is the underliner to all illness. If there was a Sexual Register because more then half of the men and women who commit these crimes on active duty would be on it, and where would that leave the military? Evonne I have a adopted daughter and I knew that I would tell her that she was when I adopted her from birth. I bought her home from the Hospital. The military took away my ability to bare children. They are going to have special issues that you work with them along or with counseling anyway. I think that its unfair for you not to tell her and she has the right to know. My daughter did and I felt bad about the fact that I didnt think pass the fact that I would be able to give her a great home and she wouldnt want for anything, to that that one day she would ask me who was her father? So I had to tell her that she had another birth mother and father! It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done in my life but I owned it to her. You didnt do anything wrong and I want you did by giving life to her and keeping her was a very brave and hard thing to do, so you should be her Hero. Let her know so that she came get on with what she needs to do to have closure concerning the Monster that raped you. I’m sure that you know that if she wanted to seek out that part of her bloodline so that she will know all the medical information she needs to know. He caused you Harm that came never be changed but God blessed you with something beautiful for that. Your big need to protect her from ever knowing who her father is is proof of that!

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